Sunday, November 28, 2010

Good Luck Hunters!

With tomorrow's opening of rifle deer season we wish you luck.  Remember, regulations have changed in certain WMU's and only buck (no doe) can be taken until Saturday.  These areas are WMUs 2C, 2D, 2E 2G, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bear's Demise Leaves A Trail Of Questions

Thursday, November 25, 2010
By John Hayes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bozo the bear is gone, but that's not half the story.

The man who illegally fed pastries to the bruin for 17 years is in mourning. The hunter who legally shot him is grousing about the questions that have been raised over his potential record kill. And across the country people are debating Bozo's death, the line separating humans and wildlife and the consequences when that line is crossed.

On Nov. 15, crossbow archer David Price of Barrett Township, Monroe County, and five companions shot a massive black bear at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in northeastern Pennsylvania. Estimated to weigh 879 pounds it was confirmed the heaviest black bear on record in the state -- 15 pounds heavier than the previous record set in 2003 with another Pike County bear. Word from the Pennsylvania Game Commission weighing station was it could be the heaviest black bear anywhere.

News soon spread through the nearby Fernwood Resort, a 440-acre Pocono Mountain retreat, that the dead bear was Bozo, a neighborhood attraction who had been fed and raised like a pet by former resort groundskeeper Leroy Lewis.

"I'm just devastated," Mr. Lewis, 71, told the Stroudsburg Pocono Record. "I feel like I lost a friend. I fed him for 17 years and I raised him from a cub. He loved doughnuts and anything sweet."

Intentionally feeding bears and elk is illegal in Pennsylvania. Working on a tip from a concerned citizen, the Game Commission issued an official warning to Mr. Lewis to stop feeding the bear on Sept. 23. He complied, but Bozo continued hanging around, knocking on Mr. Lewis' door when he wanted a snack.

On the opening of Pennsylvania's five-day archery bear season, Mr. Price got a tip that the huge bear was seen at Delaware Water Gap, and within hours Bozo was history.

But not the kind of history the hunter expected -- the bear's incredible weight is not a viable criterion for determining the record.

"Record status is determined by skull size," said Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser. "Weight can vary according to food availability, but the size of the skull doesn't change. [The skull] will be cleaned, and after a 60-day drying time it will be measured for the record."

The largest black bear skull on record is 23 inches. Bozo was unnaturally rotund, to be sure, but his skull size may not come close to cracking the record.

Mr. Lewis had stopped feeding the bear in September, so there's no accusation that Mr. Price's trophy had been baited, which is illegal in Pennsylvania. But because Bozo had been trained to approach people for food, some hunters on Internet chat sites are cracking wise about Mr. Price's "trophy pet."

"This may be the peak of my hunting career, and it's tainted, it really is," he told the Pocono Record.

Having endured a week of reporters, neither Mr. Price nor Mr. Lewis was taking phone calls as news of the kill spread across the country, and the Web buzz morphed into a larger debate about what biologists call the "habituation" of wild animals.

"We have a saying in wildlife management -- a fed bear is a dead bear," said Mr. Feaser. "When people feed wildlife and treat them like pets, they become habituated to humans. They're less wary and may even approach people, expecting to be fed. That will often put the animal at higher risk of vehicle collision, of becoming a nuisance by getting into people's garbage and bird feeders, or even approaching other humans, assuming they'll find food."

There's little harm in feeding songbirds and squirrels, so long as the feeding never stops and becomes a permanent part of the local ecosystem. But larger animals capable of harming people are different. If they don't get food as expected, habituated animals can become confused and aggressive, frightening or even harming people.

"It's not only bears," said Mr. Feaser. "In 2006 in Clinton County, two older people were gored nearly to death by a white-tailed buck that had been hand-fed as a fawn. It had become habituated to humans. In the rut when it didn't get fed, it reacted."

Mo Brown, an animal keeper and bear expert at Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, said Bozo's habituation contributed to its death.

"Whenever you start feeding wild animals, it's always the animals that pay," he said. "The people get a slap on the wrist." Mr. Brown said Bozo's situation was bad in more ways than one.

"First, the bear ends up dead. That is not uncommon in habituation situations," he said. "Second, look at what that bear was eating. It wasn't record size because it was naturally large -- this bear got fat and probably lazy. Instead of foraging as it should, he was eating doughnuts all his life. Because it was habituated and trained to expect food from people, this poor bear probably walked right up to the guy who killed it."

No necropsy is planned -- Bozo will probably become a big rug or a giant mount -- but Mr. Brown said the bear's corpulence likely caused health problems and discomfort.

"I didn't see the bear, but it was probably in pretty bad shape," said Brown, who has worked at the zoo in various jobs for 40 years. "Clogged arteries, circulation problems. Being so heavy puts pressure on circulation, puts pressure on joints. Almost 900 pounds? Here's how heavy that bear was: At the zoo we have two black bears, one is a 26-year-old male that's considered pretty big. He's 577 pounds, and I'm bringing him down slowly. He could stand to lose 60 or 70 pounds."

Mr. Brown said Bozo's tragic saga illustrates why wild animals shouldn't be treated like pets.
"The point I'm making is: The guy shouldn't have been feeding him to begin with," he said. "He's been doing something wrong for 17 years, and the animal is dead because of him. People have to understand that."

John Hayes: 412-263-1991,
First published on November 25, 2010 at 12:00 am
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sighting In Your New Deer Rifle

Sighting in your expensive new deer rifle
1. Shiny new, high-powered deer rifle............$1,200.00
2. Quality, high-powered scope.........................$550.00
3. Bore sighting device..........................$140.00
4. Forgetting to remove the bore sighting device prior to actually shooting the thing?


5. Hospital Visit............$14,893.00

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"How Dare David Price Legally Hunt Record Bear"

There has been a ground swell of opinions and accusations over the new state record black bear and how it was taken (see comments from post below).  We've followed the forums and watched intently as the facts finally unfolded.

We are relieved that the findings of the PA Game Commission have found nothing wrong was done and all regulations were followed. Mike Kuhns, Sports Editor of the Pocono Record, has published the following:

How dare David Price legally hunt record bear

November 20, 2010 12:00 AM
Let's all point the finger at David Price, the hunter from Cresco who killed a so-called tame bear, and call him the bad guy.

He's the guy who's wrong for killing Bozo, the record 875-pound black bear near Fernwood Resort on Monday afternoon.

He's the guy who fired the fatal shot from his crossbow.

He's the guy who knew there was an innocent, overweight bear walking the woods of Pike County.

He's the guy who "» did absolutely nothing wrong.

That's right, Price did nothing wrong when he, three brothers, a cousin and friend eventually tracked and killed what the Pennsylvania Game Commission is calling the largest weighing bear on record.

Many on Internet forums are calling out Price for killing the bear — an animal that was fed for years by Leroy Lewis, 71, who lives near Fernwood Resort. It was Lewis who fed the bear to the point where the bear would come to Lewis' doorstep looking for food. It was Lewis who fed the bear cakes and sweets to keep him around.

"He didn't do the bear any favors getting him acclimated (to people)," said game commission Northeast Regional Director Steve Schweitzer. "We have lots of bears that will take as much free food as they can get."

And Bozo ate. And Lewis fed him — obviously a bunch.

"I knew there were some large bears in the area," said Bill Marks, a member of Indian Mountain Gun Club. "I used to work in the park. I've seen my share of them."

Each year, the park is swarmed by hunters like Price, hoping to bring home a bear. And yet it's the opinion of many in the community — hunters and non-hunters — that it was Price who was in the wrong.

Really? Let's assume that Price knew the bear was in the area. That's no crime.

In fact, the game commission says Price didn't break any laws, but in fact it was Lewis who was cited in October for illegally feeding the bears.

And now the bear is dead, shot by a hunter who was following every rule in the book. Let's all point the finger at him and say what a bad guy he is.

The record bear should be remembered as the trophy it was. As for Price, the negative publicity has caught him off guard.

Maybe some day Price can enjoy the moment of harvesting a record bear. He deserves that much.

Related Articles:
'Tainted' trophy: Poconos hunter's record-setting bear kill spoiled
Bushkill man 'devastated' by death of bear he'd fed for years 

For those who think this was just a tame "pet" bear doing no harm, please read the following:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Pennsylvania State Record Bear Taken With Crossbow

This bear was shot November 15th 2010 with a crossbow in northeastern Pennsylvania (Pike County) by David Price of Barrett Township, Monroe County. 875 pounds live weight and 744 dressed, #2 in the WORLD and a new PA State Record. He missed the world record by 4 pounds......

From the hunter's nephew:
"This bear has some really cool history, It was right in the area we shot him for the last 17 years or so. Also, It has been caught in NJ numerous times which means he isn't afraid to swim the Delaware River.

He was trying to mate with a female bear who was in a snare in NJ. The female was caught by the NJDEP for testing and the big boy was trying to get his groove on with her. They had to tranquilize him so he didn't injure the female. As you can see in the pics, he has a tattoo on his lip. He was 711 pounds last year when he was caught by the Game he put on some weight since then. He has an AWESOME blaze on his chest.  

I have never seen a bear with a "U-shaped" blaze...seen lots with diamond shaped ones though. The bear had 6" of fat on him.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bear Climbs Tree Stand

OK, imagine you're out in the deep woods by yourself high up in a tree stand. But you're not hunting with a gun. Just a video camera. Suddenly a large black bear comes along and starts climbing up the ladder beneath you...well...what would YOU do?


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Flock Mentality

Sunday, November 07, 2010
By Ben Moyer
Pittsburgh Post Gazette 

For wild turkeys in the fall, it's all about the flock. As far back as spring when the chicks pecked out of their eggs, the hen's clucks bonded the brood as a unit. They left the nest together, fed and roosted together and regrouped to her calls after every encounter with coyote or hawk.

By mid-summer, broods of different hens combined as larger flocks, which will remain together into the winter sharing the best habitats and food sources they can find. Flocks in Pennsylvania this fall are abundant and large, said Game Commission wild turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena.

"The state's wild turkey population is above the five-year-average thanks to good reproduction the past three springs and generally conservative fall season lengths, which minimizes the overharvest of hens," she said. The most experienced and successful fall turkey hunters understand the wild turkey's compulsion to flock, and use that edge to their advantage.

Pete Clare spends a lot of time hunting wild turkeys in southern New York, where the fall season is seven weeks long. There, he runs Turkey Trot Acres (, guiding visiting turkey hunters into southern tier hardwood hills on every day of the New York fall hunt.

Clare is a big advocate of the "scatter and call" style of fall hunting, especially since he uses Appalachian turkey dogs to find and break flocks (using dogs to hunt turkeys became legal in Pennsylvania in 2008). He notes, though, that flock dynamics change as the fall progresses and that hunters in Pennsylvania's late seasons may need to make adjustments.

"It's amazing how we can observe the flock maturing during our longer season," Clare said. "Getting toward mid-November, when your season [in Pennsylvania] will just be starting, younger birds do not seem so frantic to get back together when scattered. Also, the young gobblers get bigger than their mothers and they try and take over the flock."

Maturing gobblers can be a huge factor.

"If hunters break birds and call to them only with hen yelps, it won't work if young gobblers are running the reassembly," he said. "Calling back a broken flock this late may take a lot of patience and experimentation."

Clare said he's learned that no matter when the season is scheduled, woodsmanship and knowledge of the landscape are valuable assets to the fall turkey hunter. "The best approach is to follow the sign," he said. "Find what birds are feeding on and then look there for fresh scratching. Go easy and slow and you will walk up on them, then scatter them for the call-back."

Especially for hunters without turkey dogs, Clare said that following fresh sign through open hardwoods such as oak or cherry stands is a good way to hunt. "The most effective break [of the flock] is in open hardwoods by total surprise," he said. "You come over a hill and they're out there feeding and you rush into them for a 360-degree scatter. A woods break is a golden thing -- way better than a field break where the birds will see you and fan way in the same direction."

Success at calling the birds back, though, can take more than just a thorough scatter.

"When birds flush, pay close attention. Try and pick up visual clues to the makeup of the flock," Clare said. "Try to see if it is a flock of old gobblers, hens and young of the year, or a flock of jakes. The flock makeup will determine how you call. You don't want to send out 'kee-kee' whistles for a flock of longbeard toms. It won't work." Clare said a common mistake made by fall hunters is to scatter turkeys from their roost site high on a ridge at early morning.

"If you flush them out of the trees high on a ridge they will most times sail all the way to the valley and it will be tough to call them back," he said. "Let them get away from the roost site and then scatter them. Your success will be much better."

Clare's experiences tell him that the ideal time to scatter turkeys is about 1 1/2 hours before dusk. A break then allows enough time for the woods to settle down before calling, yet the turkeys are eager to regroup before dark. If a turkey isn't bagged that evening, said Clare, don't expect the flock to remain broken at dawn.

"I've seen it so many times. They have some way of getting back together at night," he said. "I don't know if they hop from branch to branch or what, but it rarely works that you can go back in there the next morning and call one in." Clare's most reliable turkey tip? "Do not ignore the break site," he said. "Those turkeys will come back there some time during the day. Don't be tempted to follow two or three from the group. Stay at the break site and call and you will have a good hunt."

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