Archers Zero in on Bear
Inside the Outdoors, November 7
, 2014

There used to be a time when one heard of an occasional bear visiting parts of southwestern Pennsylvania. Now reports are landing on my desk that black bear hunting is getting better and better. That means there must be an abundance of these game animals around.

Of course, that is good for the hunter, but maybe not so good for those whom are a little careless with leaving food out at night, whether it be garbage, bird seed or pet food.

When a woman approached me at the Latrobe Farmers’ Market and told me she saw a mother with cubs along Four Mile Run on her way to Latrobe, that must have been an unusual sighting or she probably may not have told me the story.

And when I take visitors to Spring Flats Bog on top of Laurel Mountain near the Laurel Mountain Ski Slopes, I often hear people tell others, “If you see a bear nearby, stay calm. They no more want to be with you than you do with them.”

So when Mark Ternent, bear biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission shared statistics in the July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, he stated that “Last year, hunters harvested 3,511 bears, which ranked as the fifth-highest harvest in state history.”

That could only mean one thing. Black bears are on the rise in Pennsylvania. In all truthfulness, let’s hope it stays that way. With all the clearing of land for gas well drilling, house construction and general clearing of land for various purposes, it’s always good to hear that there is somewhat of a population increase among these wild creatures.

Turning back to Ternent’s article, “Black Bear Hunting Keeps Getting Better Everywhere,” he went on to state, “Bear season began last year with the early season, which allows bears to be harvested in any deer season in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D, including the archery, early muzzleloader, and special early firearms seasons’ that occur in September and October.”

He went on to state, “Two new WMUs have been added to the extended season for 2014. For the first time, WMUs 2C and 4B will be open to four additional days of bear hunting during Wednesday through Saturday of the first week of firearms deer season. These two WMUs were added to the extended season because of increasing bear populations and associated human- bear conflicts. Results from these WMUs, and others open to extended season next year.”

Ternent finalized his commentary by concluding, “There has not been a better time to hunt bears in Pennsylvania than now because of the season changes implemented over the past 10 years. Considering that many of these expanded opportunities occurred because bear populations have increases or expanded into new area, it is no surprise that Pennsylvania currently has more bear hunters than just about any other state in the country,” he said.

Knowing this information, if bear hunting is your sport, ought to whet your appetite for a day out in the woods, especially Penn’s Woods. Considering the fact that statewide archery gets underway, Nov. 17 and goes until Nov. 21 ought to get any sportsman eager to try to get his trophy. Regular statewide firearms season begins Nov. 22, can’t hunt Nov. 23, then resumes Nov. 24 – 26. Who knows, this just may be your year!

By the way, if you do get a bear, let me know by emailing me at


Big brown trout are hitting in Erie, I’m told. “They are taking everything we throw at them,” said one angler who went home with four fish averaging ten pounds apiece.

I remember one Latrobean telling me upon his first visit there that he will never fish the Loyalhanna ever again after cashing in on catching those “monsters.” If he really gets itchin’ for angling, he’ll come back to our waters. They are filled with game fish, all waiting to be meals on sportsmen’s plates. Why not take on the challenge and fish the holes of the number one trout stream that runs directly though the City of Latrobe!


I sensed a gentleman’s excitement upon talking to him on the phone recently. Our conversation centered around what trout were hitting upon at Twin Lakes. He said, “I used Kastmaster lures and never changed to anything else. I came home with three trout, one 16-inches in length.”

I’m glad he took three and not any more, for that is the daily limit for trout during the extended season. May I suggest that lure in silver. That finish seemed the do the trick, and I am sure, it may do the job for others, as well.

- Paul J. Volkmann
Contact me by email

To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.