Pa.’s bear season just around the corner: “exciting time to be a bear hunter”

Pennsylvania
Black Bear hunting season

Black Bear (Getty Images)

PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — With bear hunting season just around the corner, Pennsylvania Game Commission points to a number of tell-tale signs that good black bear hunting opportunities are in the state these days.

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According to the commission, nine of the 10 largest harvests of bears occurred in the last 13 years, with the 2020 harvest of 3,621 bears ranking 6th. Fortunately for the 2021 season, “with lots of bears still o the landscape” the commission expects “the train to keep on rollin’.”

“We’ve got many, many black bears, including some of the biggest in the country, spread across the Commonwealth and within reach of hunters everywhere,” Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans, said. “Plus, our various bear seasons give hunters the opportunity to pursue them in numerous ways throughout the fall.”

Bear hunters will be able to hunt in several distinctive seasons:

  • a statewide three-week archery bear season
  • a one-week muzzleloader bear season that offers three days of rifle hunting for certain classifications of hunters including juniors and seniors
  • a four-day statewide firearms bear season that includes a Sunday.

Plus, something new for 2021: hunters will be able to harvest bears on the opening weekend of deer season, both Saturday and Sunday. (In 2020, bears did not become legal game until the first Monday.)

“This is an exciting time to be a bear hunter. It’s no wonder more and more people are taking to the bear woods every autumn,” Burhans said.

The Game Commissions’s bear biologist, Emily Carrollo, recommends that hunters looking for bears focus first on finding food sources, randing from apples to hard-mast crops to standing agriculture crops, and then look for actual bear signs.

“Pennsylvania has been a bear hunting destination for many, many years,” Carrollo said. “I don’t expect that to change. Despite large harvests in the past, we’ve still got plenty of bears, and lots of big ones, out there.”

According to the commission, with so many bears out there this year, the typical success rate of 2 or 3% for bear hunters could see an increase this season.

To purchase a hunting license before the season begins, click here.  A list of issuing agents is available here under the “Hunt/Trap” tab. Licenses purchased online cannot be used until they are received through the mail because bear licenses contain harvest ear tags.

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