Have you ever just had one of those days… one you knew was gonna be great right from the start? In 2005, I had one of those days. I had been successful all year long. During archery season, I took a real nice 140 class 10-point with my Hoyt and a big ole fat doe. Rifle season came along, and I still had one doe tag and my bear tag.
The first morning of rifle season, I got to my spot about an hour before legal shooting time and got set up. We had an extended bear season that ran with our whitetail gun season.
The sun was peaking over the trees, and it was about 5 minutes into legal shooting time when a single doe came walking up to me. I put the cross hairs right between her eyes and made a 20 yard head shot with my .243! She dropped like a stone, and I proceeded to tag her and go retrieve my cousin to help me drag her.
I had to work the next morning, but as soon as I was finished, I flew up into the mountains. A real strong front had been blowing in, and it was in the mid 70s. No one was in the mountains with me that day. Not a car or truck in sight. I was thinking to myself that maybe I should take the hint, but I also had this nagging feeling that today was gonna pay off. I parked my truck, put my orange on and loaded my rifle. All I needed was a black bear and all my tags for the year would be filled.
I remember walking down in the fog ever so slowly while the rain and wind were blowing in. The leaves were soaked, and you could smell the fresh dirt all throughout the woods. I only made it about 200 yards from my truck when out of the corner of my eye this large black figure stood up.
I froze and looked. At first I thought it was a hunter, but I quickly realized it was a bear! I was only 25 yards away… if that! I thought for sure I was busted, but to my surprise he went back down and started playing in the brush. I slowly pointed the gun at the brush pile and took my safety off. What seemed like forever was actually only 5 minutes before the bear stood up and started to sniff the air. I thought to myself, it’s now or never. I put the cross hairs dead center on his chest and touched off the shot. He dropped and started to roll around while I nearly had heart failure from what had just taken place.
I couldn’t believe I found this bear I was after when I had never seen one in the wild while hunting before! My grandfather had passed away the year before and seen countless bears at this spot but never had the heart to kill one. I’ve wanted to see one for as long as I can remember and now I had one here laying in front of me.
I reloaded my gun to full capacity and cautiously walked up to my bear. I poked him in the hind quarter with the muzzle of my gun, and he didn’t move. He was finished. I started to get the shakes after I realized I got my first PA black bear. I went to lift him up to get him into position to gut him, but as I did this the air in his lungs came out of his mouth, and he let out a growl. Meanwhile, I just about crapped my pants!
Eventually, I gutted him and got him tagged, but realized that I had to drag him out all by myself. I, honestly, had no idea how heavy this bear was. All I knew was he didn’t drag like anything I’d ever killed before.
So for the next 2 hours I flipped him end over end up the mountain and to my truck. I’m a big guy and this just about killed me, but there was no way I was going to leave him to go get help. This was my bear, and I was determined to do the work myself. And I did! I got him to my truck and the problem then became how do I get this brute into my truck?
The tailgate was way too high. So I opened the extended part of my cab and got under the bear’s arms. Then, I fell back into my truck and flipped him right on in. I was so relieved! At this point I was drowning in my own sweat and completely exhausted, but so pumped to show off my trophy!
I got to the weigh station the next day where they told me the approximate weight of my bear was 248 lbs. My first PA black bear and I did all the work myself. I am truly happy and proud of my kill! If it wasn’t for my grandfathers guidance, I probably never would’ve have gotten to that point. Even though he is gone, I know he was right there with me patting me on the back and saying good job, Harv. I can’t wait ‘til my boy is old enough to learn all the things that man taught me.