Of the 2,709 black bears taken Monday and Tuesday during the first two days of Pennsylvania's three-day regular bear season, two taken by hunters from Jim Thorpe Monday afternoon in Carbon County's Penn Forest Township rank No. 1 and No. 1-A.
At 4:35 p.m., Terence Burkhardt shot a boar with an actual live weight of 654 pounds, officially making it No. 1. He shot that bear just 65 minutes after Mike Wimmer, Jr., shot a boar that was field dressed when it arrived at the Pennsylvania Game Commission check station, but had an estimated live weight of 654 pounds.
Last year, 2,518 bears were brought to PGC check stations after two days of hunting.In 2007, 1,638 bears passed through check stations the first two days and, in 2006, biologists inspected 2,185 bears after two days.
In 2005, when the state record bear harvest was set, agency personnel processed 2,875 bears through the first two days of season. That is followed by 2,262 in 2004; 2,299 in 2003; and 2,022 in 2002.
Of the top 10 bears processed at check stations this year on the first two days, all had actual or estimated live weights that exceeded 570 pounds. Other bears in the top five are a boar with an actual live weight of 644 pounds taken in Fulton County by Travis Crouse, Chambersburg, Monday at 9:06 a.m.; a boar with an actual live weight of 610 pounds taken in Dauphin County by Dave Frey, Harrisburg, Monday at 8:30 a.m.; and a boar with an estimated live weight of 607 pounds taken in Pike County by Art Garris, Jr., Bushkill, Monday at 7:30 a.m.
Completing the top 10 are a boar with an estimated live weight of 588 pounds in Franklin County by Art Clayton, Amberson, Monday at 2:30 p.m.; a boar with an estimated live weight of 586 pounds in Pike County by John Waters, Jr., Spring City, Monday at 9:30 a.m.; a boar with an estimated live weight of 581 pounds in Lycoming County by Matt Wells, Gillett, Tuesday at 9 a.m.; a boar with an estimated live weight of 576 pounds in McKean County by Cody Cogan, Weedville, Tuesday at 2:35 p.m.; and a boar with an estimated live weight of 570 pounds in Somerset County by Rich Smith, Meyersdale, Monday at 7:30 a.m.
Hunters with an unfilled bear license may participate in extended bear seasons that run concurrent with all or portions of the first week of the firearms deer season.Details about those areas open to extended bear hunting are printed on Pages 34 and 35 of the "2009-10 Hunting and Trapping Digest," and a list of bear check stations opened during the extended bear seasons is on Page 36 of the digest.
Conservation and Natural Resources acting secretary John Quigley has announced more accessible areas and expanded hunting opportunities await those heading into state forestlands for Monday's start of the two-week deer season.
"Our Bureau of Forestry will open 422 miles of normally closed roads to hunters and steer them to areas where deer numbers are too high and threaten state forest regeneration," Quigley said. "Many of these roads are in Deer Management Assistance Program areas where properly licensed hunters may take additional deer, and our foresters want to see higher deer kills.
"The state's deer hunters are an invaluable tool in wildlife management and forest stewardship. Hunters seeking whitetails in our state forest will find more than 90 percent of all state forestland is now within one-half mile of an open road during deer season."
Quigley added that throughout the state's big game seasons, which run into January 2010, hunters will find 3,040 miles of roadway open in state forestlands.
Hunters can help emergency food assistance agencies feed Pennsylvania's hungry by donating extra deer meat to the statewide "Hunters Sharing the Harvest" network.
Participating hunters can take their deer to one of the nearly 80 participating meat processors throughout the state and identify how much of the venison – from several pounds to the whole animal – they would like to donate. If the entire deer is donated, the hunter is asked to make a minimum $15 tax-deductible contribution to help cover processing costs, and HSH will pay the remaining fees, or hunters may also donate a portion of their deer by paying the full processing fee and notifying the processor to hold a specified amount for the program.
Established in 1991, HSH provides more than 200,000 meals annually to food banks, churches and social services feeding programs.Last year, hunters donated more than 100,000 pounds of venison.
To learn more about Hunters Sharing the Harvest and obtain a list of participating meat processors and county coordinators, visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Web site at www.pgc.state.pa.us  and click on "Hunting" and then "Hunters Sharing the Harvest." Information may also be found at www.sharedeer.org  or by calling toll-free 866-474-2141.
Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officer Kevin Clouser will discuss the prospects in the area for the upcoming Pennsylvania two-week firearms deer season as today's guest on "Experience the Outdoors" with Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association member Doyle Dietz on Oldies 1410-AM, from 7:30-8 a.m. There will be a rebroadcast of the program Sunday, from 9:30-10 a.m., on Magic, WMGH, 105.5-FM.
A muzzleloader shoot will be held, Sunday, Dec. 13, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., by the First Frontier Militia at Bowmanstown Rod and Gun Club, Gun Club Road, off Route 248, Bowmanstown. For information, call Roger Fisher at 610-377-2812.
Complimentary, one-year memberships are being offered to first-time members by the National Rifle Association. According to an NRA spokesperson in the membership department, this is being done in an effort to familiarize firearms owners and shooters with the organization's services and programs.
To register for a complimentary NRA membership, access the special Web site at