Many sporting men and women spend big bucks to hunt bears in Alaska or Canada, believing that they must burn a pile of cash and travel thousands of mile for a chance at a big bear.  Ironically, one of the nations best black bear hunting areas can be found between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  Additionally, Keystone black bears are among the largest in the world with numerous animals taken annually over 500 pounds and several over 700 pounds.

Great Access

Keystone bruins thrive near major cities.

Pennsylvania bear hunts offer some of the easiest access in the nation, thanks to millions of acres of public land.  PA’s Public Game Lands are well mapped and information about them them posted on line and in print.  Ironically, some of the largest bears are taken near large population centers.

Maryland, an adjoining state, has an annual black bear season, yet hunters must apply for a lottery drawing, while bear tags are available over-the-counter in Pennsylvania for residents and non-resident.

Combo Season

Pennsylvania offers an archery and a gun season each fall.  Since license regulations run summer to summer, purchasing a 2017-18 license will allow you to hunt deer, bear, and turkey this fall and spring turkey in May of 2018.  The state-wide archery black bear season opens October 30 and runs through November 4th, creating a great opportunity for archers.  The whitetail deer rut peaks in mid November in most of the Keystone state which means whitetail bucks will be making rubs, scrapes, and searching for hot does during the bear season.  In some areas, the wild turkey season may be open as well.

Crossbow Connection

Crossbows are legal in all archery seasons in PA.

If you a rifle hunter, remember that crossbows are legal in Keystone archery seasons.  Your range will be limited to 40 yards or less, yet with a couple of months of practice you can take full advantage of the bear and deer season.  Should you take a nice buck during your bear quest, you rifle tag is still valid during the gun season. This post from the Hunt Forever website explains just how great this bear hunt can be:

This is the golden age of bear hunting.  Since the Pennsylvania Game Commission began keeping records of statewide bear harvests in 1915, there has never been a more prolific period for Commonwealth black bear hunters.