Harrisburg, PA – The largest black bear harvested so far this hunting season came from Goshen Township, Clearfield County.

Mickey Moore from Clearfield shot the 704-pound bear with a rifle around 8:30 Saturday morning, the opening day for the season. Bears in the 600-pound range were also harvested by locals in Jefferson and Clarion Counties.

Although bear hunters started their four-day season right after one of the most dangerous early winter storms in years, that didn’t stop local hunters from bundling up and harvesting some giant black bears.

Tomorrow is the final day for bear season. Remember, if you took a bear this year, you must bring it to a PA Game Commission check station to get weighed and recorded.

Learn more at the PA Game Commission website.

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Bear hunters started Pennsylvania’s statewide four-day black bear season with a bang on the heels of one of the nastiest early winter storms the Commonwealth has encountered in years.

The first day of Pennsylvania’s statewide bear season resulted in a harvest of 1,241 black bears, according to preliminary totals released Monday by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Last fall, bear hunters took a preliminary harvest of 659 bears on the Saturday opener, which became a record-low harvest for what is by far the best harvest day of the annual four-day bear season. And although Winter Storm Avery might have impacted hunter travel to camp country and access to the more remote forested areas bears inhabit, hunters found a way to reach bears.

This year’s first-day preliminary bear harvest positions the state for a bear harvest that could challenge for a Top-5 harvest year. The state’s fifth best harvest occurred in 2016, when a preliminary harvest of 1,297 bears was taken the opening Saturday.

Snow cover remains across much of the state’s mountainous and forested regions, which could increase bear visibility on the landscape and offer hunters a tracking snow to locate and follow bears. Without these benefits, it’s tougher to see bears in cover and pinpoint areas they’re inhabiting.

Any additional advantage bear hunters can get is important for a state with a bear population currently estimated at about 20,000.

Pennsylvania’s best opening day preliminary harvest occurred in 2011 when 1,936 bears were taken. The state record bear harvest also occurred in 2011 when 4,350 bears were taken.

Archery-bear and other early-bear season harvest data are not included in this preliminary harvest for the statewide four-day bear season, which runs from Nov. 17 to Nov. 21.

Bears have been harvested in 53 counties during the statewide season so far.

The top 10 bears processed at check stations by Monday were either estimated or confirmed to have live weights of 559 pounds or more.

The largest of those bears – a male estimated at 704 pounds – was taken in Goshen Township, Clearfield County, by Mickey L. Moore, of Clearfield. He took it with a rifle at about 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 17, the season’s opening day.

The second largest bear was a 679-pound male taken at 5 yards with a .357 handgun by Jordan M. Tutmaher, of Warren. Harvested in Farmington Township, Warren County, at 8 a.m., the bear appeared in a drive of a Christmas tree patch, Tutmaher said.

Other large bears taken in the season’s opening day – all taken with a rifle – include: a 623-pound male taken in Newport Township, Luzerne County, by Corrina M. Kishbaugh, of Nanticoke; a 614-pound male taken in Toby Township, Clarion County, by Thomas C. Wilson, of Rimersburg; a 607-pound male taken in Hazle Township, Luzerne County, by Brian P. Bonner, of McAdoo; a 604-pound male taken in Young Township, Jefferson County, by Matthew J. Smith, of Punxsutawney; a 601-pound male taken in Greene Township, Pike County, by Thomas B. Hallowell, Lebanon; a 585-pound male taken in West Penn Township, Schuylkill County, by Daniel T. Fetzer, of New Ringgold; a 581-pound male taken in Fannett Township, Franklin County, by Jared E. Hevner, of Red Lion; and a 578-pound male taken in Pocono Township, Monroe County, by Nathan S. Fryer, of Tannersville.

The overall 2017 bear harvest was 3,438, the ninth largest in state history. In 2016, hunters took a total of 3,529 bears – the fifth-largest harvest all time.

Other previous first-day statewide bear harvest totals were 659 in 2017; 1,297 in 2016; 1,508 in 2015; 1,623 in 2014; 1,320 in 2013; 1,320 in 2012; 1,936 in 2011; and 1,751 in 2010.

The preliminary first-day bear harvest by Wildlife Management Unit was as follows: WMU 1A, 15 (1 in 2017); WMU 1B, 68 (11); WMU 2A, 5 (0); WMU 2C, 85 (18); WMU 2D, 83 (32); WMU 2E, 46 (5); WMU 2F, 120 (65); WMU 2G, 208 (129); WMU 2H, 46 (31); WMU 3A, 67 (43); WMU 3B, 71 (74); WMU 3C, 29 (44); WMU 3D, 90 (101); WMU 4A, 94 (29); WMU 4B, 44 (14); WMU 4C, 58 (20); WMU 4D, 77 (26); WMU 4E, 32 (14); and WMU 5A, 3 (2).

The top bear-hunting county in the state on the first day of the season was Clinton County, with 75. It was followed by Huntingdon County with 64.

Opening-day harvests by county and region are:

Northwest (245): Venango, 52 (16); Jefferson, 46 (14); Warren, 32 (22); Forest, 30 (12); Crawford, 29 (7); Clarion, 24 (17); Mercer, 11 (0); Erie, 11 (0); and Butler, 10 (2).

Southwest (128): Somerset, 39 (8); Fayette, 29 (6); Indiana, 23 (1); Armstrong, 19 (4); Cambria, 13 (4); and Westmoreland, 5 (0).

Northcentral (411): Clinton, 75 (41); Clearfield, 56 (12); Tioga, 53 (58); Lycoming, 50 (47); Cameron, 45 (20); Potter, 36 (31); McKean, 32 (16); Centre, 31 (5); Elk, 25 (28); and Union, 8 (5).

Southcentral (192): Huntingdon, 64 (16); Bedford, 39 (12); Fulton, 28 (9); Juniata, 14 (3); Franklin, 12 (4); Blair, 11 (1); Perry, 11 (3); Mifflin, 6 (5); Adams, 3 (2); Snyder, 3 (0); and Cumberland, 1 (2).

Northeast (221): Monroe, 32 (18); Luzerne, 32 (15); Bradford, 26 (10); Pike, 26 (55); Wayne, 24 (32); Wyoming, 22 (15); Sullivan, 15 (24); Carbon, 12 (9); Columbia, 10 (4); Northumberland, 9 (1); Lackawanna, 8 (14); and Susquehanna, 5 (13).

Southeast (44): Dauphin, 24 (9); Schuylkill, 12 (2); Lebanon, 4 (0); Lehigh, 3 (0); and Berks, 1 (3).