Outdoor Life Online Editor

The only local headlines in Pennsylvania papers recently focused on the negative. Battles over doe tags and whitetail management had left the state’s sportsmen in a deer stand divided against itself. And then bear season opened.

A jaw-dropping 2,026 bears were taken in the first day, kicking off an amazing season that ended with a total kill of 3,331 black bears (849 were taken on the second day and 456 on the third). Closest to this record is 2000’s harvest of 3,075 bears and the best previous first day came in 2001, when hunters harvested 1,812 bruins.

Before the hunt, the state’s bear population continued to range around a healthy 15,000. Abundant fall foods and favorable weather helped keep bears mobile. The large harvest resulted from a high turn out by both hunters and bears. Bears tend to den later when foods are readily available.

Andrew Seman Jr., of Dunbar, took the largest bear this season, a 733-pound male, in Dunbar Township, Fayette County. Hunters have checked 14 bears that were estimated to weigh 600 pounds or more.

After the three days, Lycoming County led all counties with a harvest of 238 bruins.