Northampton Press

Saturday, February 22, 2020
Photo by Bonnie Weaknecht Rick Weaknecht of Kutztown, poses with his pajama, archery bear shot behind his house. Photo by Bonnie Weaknecht Rick Weaknecht of Kutztown, poses with his pajama, archery bear shot behind his house.

PGC issues bear harvest report

Thursday, December 5, 2013 by NICK HROMIAK Special to the Press in Sports

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has issued its preliminary bear harvest report, but not included, is the tally from the archery and early bear seasons.

According to the PGC, bears were taken in 51 counties statewide, so far. And the top 10 bears checked on Monday were either estimated or confirmed to have live weights of 556 pounds or more. The largest, a male, weighed an estimated 772 pounds and was shot in Covington Twp., Lackawanna County by Dan Beavers of Covington Twp., Pa.

Other large bears reported were a 632-pound male taken by Mike Truax of Everett, Pa., in East Providence Twp., Bedford County; a 627 pound male, shot by Wayne Gehers of Mohnton, Pa; 616-pound male by Brad Rohrer of Lancaster, in Union Twp., Tioga County.

As for the preliminary breakdown of WMU's where bears were taken, they are as follows: 1A, 13; 1B, 59; 2C, 198; 2D, 120; 2E, 68; 2F, 237; 2G, 459; 2H, 62; 3A, 138; 3B, 132; 3C, 49; 3D, 169; 4A, 64; 4B, 43; 4C, 47; 4D, 167 and 4E, 19.

And for the local regions it was the Northeast Region with

Pike, 82; Wayne, 52; Luzerne, 46; Sullivan, 47; Carbon, 31; Monroe, 30; Wyoming, 28; Lackawanna, 26; Bradford, 21; Susquehanna, 13; and Columbia, 10.

Here in the Southeast it was Schuylkill, 18; Dauphin, 9; Lebanon, 5 and Northampton, 1. None have been reported so far for Lehigh County.

Although it's not a behemoth bear, 81-year old Ruben Smoyer of New Tripoli, and a long time Northwestern Press reader, took his first bear in 50 years of trying.

In a phone interview with this veteran hunter, Smoyer recounted how he shot his 200-pound (estimated live weight) male that he took in Potter County with a .257 Roberts caliber rifle. And that brings up another story.

Said Smoyer, "When I got to Potter I discovered I forgot to bring ammo for my rifle. And since I don't buy ammo but load my own, my son drove into Coudersport where he found a box of .257 Roberts, but they were 117-grain cartridges and I always use 100 grain. But I used it nonetheless."

Perhaps that ammo changed his luck, as it allowed him to score on his first black bear.

When asked when he shot it, Smoyer said, "I shot it at 7:30 a.m. on opening day and I saw it sneaking through a cutoff where there was a lot of timbered trees. I shot it at approximately 50 yards and it went right down."

For those not versed on rifle calibers, the .257 Roberts is predominately a classic, favorite deer caliber that has light recoil. So to drop a 200-pound black bear with a relatively small caliber, Ruben Smoyer deserves a high-five and a God bless ya.

Smoyer's bear is at Bob's Wildlife Taxidermy in Orefield, awaiting Smoyer's decision to have either a rug or head mount made as a remembrance of his trophy after a half century of trying to score on one.

Then there's the story of an archery, pajama bear hunt.

Rick Weaknecht of Weaknecht Archery in Kutztown, awoke one recent morning and proceeded to his kitchen to take his daily meds. As he looked out the kitchen window of his Greenwich Township Berks County home, a ritual he does daily looking for deer, he couldn't believe his eyes. A black bear was walking down a hill to the rear of his property, which was about 80 yards away. Since the archery bear season was in full swing and he had a bear tag, Weaknecht ran out of his house and into his detached garage to retrieve his Hoyt Carbon Element 58-pound draw bow. He hurriedly slipped on his camo bibs, cap and his boots and ran around the front of his house and to the side and hid behind an adjacent pine tree. At that point the bear continued down the hill and got closer to his home.

Weaknecht goes on to tell the remainder of his story by saying, "When the bear got behind a tree, I managed to get closer to the hill where he was walking down. The wind was perfectly in my favor so I then sneaked up my four-wheeler trail for a closer shot and hid behind another wide tree. It took the bear about 10-15 minutes to get closer to me and when he did, I let my Thunderhead 85 broadhead tipped arrow fly. I ranged him at 21 yards and since I shot uphill at him, the bear spun around and miraculously fell down. I didn't have to trail him."

Weaknecht went on to say the bear had an ear tag and when it was taken to the PGCs Reading regional office bear check station, the records showed that this particular bear was trapped and tagged in July at Hawk Mountain. At that time, the male bear weighed 140 pounds live weight and the PGC estimated its current live weight at 237 pounds and was approximately 3 years old.

Needless to say, this certainly was an once-in-a-lifetime bear hunt - sans pajamas.