---- — "While in my tree stand deep in the woods, I feel twenty feet closer to God."
Better than halfway through this week's statewide four-day bear season a preliminary harvest of 2,442 bears has been recorded, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Last year's season resulted in a total harvest of 3,038 bears so it seems that this year's harvest, during near perfect weather, will be on par with past years.
The preliminary third-day bear harvest stats from our area are: 223 bears in Wildlife Management Unit 4D, which includes western Union and western Snyder counties; in Unit 4E, covering most of the remainder of Union and Snyder counties and all of Northumberland and Montour counties, 35 bears have been harvested.
In Wildlife Management Unit 2G just to the north of our valley the state's largest harvest of 592 bears has been recorded. The largest bear processed at check stations, so far, had an estimated live weight of 706 pounds and was taken in Pike County by James Weisbord of Quakertown. Barry Zimmerman of Loysville in Perry County harvested, near his home, the 10th heaviest bear so far this season, weighing in at 557 pounds. So far, the county-by-county harvests are: Lycoming, 239; Union, 59; Perry, 23; Columbia, 18; Northumberland, 8; and Snyder, 7. This year's four-day bear season wrapped up Wednesday. Hunters with an unfilled bear license may participate in the extended bear seasons that run concurrent with all or portions of the first week of the firearm deer season. For those deer hunters who didn't purchase a bear license earlier, but will be hunting in areas where the extended bear season is being held, bear license sales will reopen today and run through this Sunday.
Attacking WCO is criminal
There's a "narrow green line" in the woods of Pennsylvania that is made up of wildlife and waterways conservation officers and their deputies, and their most critical task is to keep everyone safe and insure that the principles of a "fair chase" are followed. A new law goes into effect on Dec. 23 that increases the penalties for assaulting one of these officers. The new law, known as Act 150 of 2012, changes the maximum penalty for anyone convicted of assaulting a conservation officer to a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 40 years in prison. This is the same penalty for assaulting any other law enforcement official, elected official, personnel of the court, teacher or psychiatric aide.
"The new law is of vital importance," Carl Roe of the Game Commission said, adding, "It seeks fairness for the law enforcement officers who face dangerous situations in the fulfillment of their responsibilities, as demonstrated by the tragic death of David Grove. This new law takes a giant step in the protection of officers and does so in a way that is consistent with other similar law enforcement personnel."
Countdown is on
Some people call it Pennsylvania's only "unofficial" holiday. The Monday after Thanksgiving marks the opening day of the two-week general deer season, and will feature nearly 750,000 individuals sporting fluorescent orange throughout Penn's Woods. Here are a couple of tips for my fellow buck-fever sufferers:
n Antler restrictions in place this year, identical to last year.
n Junior hunters, mentored youth hunters, disabled hunters with a vehicle-use permit and resident active-duty U.S. Armed Services personnel have a minimum antler restrictions of one antler with at least two points or one antler three or more inches in length.
n Hunters in the local Wildlife Management Units of 2G, 3B, 4B, 4D and 4E will have a split-season structure in place. During the first five days of the season, November 26th-30th, only antlered deer may be harvested and then during the remaining seven days, December 1st-8th, both antlered and antlerless deer may be harvested. The other Units with this restriction are 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F in western Pennsylvania and 3C in the Poconos. In the rest of the state "if it's brown, it's down."
n Hunters must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined at all times while afield during the seasons.
n Be advised that it's illegal to hunt with a firearm, chase or disturb deer within 150 yards of any occupied building without the occupant's permission or 50 yards if using a bow or crossbow.
n If you're getting your trophy mounted, it's important to remember that state law requires the deer harvest carcass tag to remain with the head at the taxidermist, and that a second hand-made tag containing the name, address and license number of the person who harvested the deer and the location of the harvest remain with the rest of the carcass going to the processor.
Elk hunt rundown
The Game Commission announced that 52 elk were harvested by the 65 hunters who were awarded elk licenses for the recently-concluded 2012 elk hunt. Of that total, 19 were antlered and 33 were antlerless. These successful elk hunters included Charles Ulrich of Allenwood, Union County, who took a 729-pound, 7x7 on November 5th in Karthus Township, Clearfield County. The heaviest antlered elk was taken by Richard Tratthen, Jr., of Scott Township, Lackawanna County. He took an estimated live weight 840-pound, 8x8 in Jay Township, which is in, appropriately named: Elk County.