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#199064 - 04/18/19 11:11 AM Advice for Novice_Bear Hunting in PA

Registered: 11/17/15
Posts: 142
Loc: North Alabama

I may get an opportunity to hunt Bear in PA near Scranton. I only know the property is 75 acres of typical hills and trees. Of course I will get more info if it develops. With all the restrictions on baiting and lack of opportunity to scout, I am assuming I should hang a stand blind for first morning based on some GE scouting then adapt for day 2 and 3. I think the property is too small to be stomping around on so doing all day sits over any sign I find seems prudent. What do the seasoned bear hunters recommend? Would use .44 Mag SBHH (240 or 300 gr) or maybe .35-30/30 Contender (180 grain). I appreciate any advice.
First Handgun Deer: ~1982 8" S&W .38Spl
SW 686 4" with Matchdot II
SBHH .45LC 7.5"
Contender G2 .35-30/30 (Bellm), .22LR, .22 Hornet

#199065 - 04/18/19 11:54 AM Re: Advice for Novice_Bear Hunting in PA [Re: short30]

Registered: 01/18/04
Posts: 363
Loc: Texas Hill Country

Is having fresh donuts in the stand with you considered baiting

But for the grace of God, there, I go.

#199071 - 04/18/19 08:28 PM Re: Advice for Novice_Bear Hunting in PA [Re: racksmasher1]
old hand

Registered: 12/04/05
Posts: 975
Loc: WV

Despite what many may say, I'll say go big in your gun choice. Sure people have taken them with .30-30s, even .357s. But how much of that was a lucky shot in the exact killing spot.
Some bears drop instantly, but a lot of those will get up and run. They don't bleed a lot with many handgun rounds.
Many PA bears are very big. Some are very tough to bring down.
I've been fortunate enough to take 8 black bears and 2 brown bears. Only 3 did not move- one brownie with a .375 JDJ Contender at 30 yds. coming at me with a shot just under the chin; one black with a .375/.284 XP-100 and a 260 gr. Nosler AB on a double shoulder shot at 160 yds. ; one brownie with a .500 Mag. and 375 gr. X at 129 yds with a double shoulder shot.
Others shot with .44s, .325 WSM, and one with a double lung shot with the .375/.284 and 260 AB ran a bunch ,but were recovered. Blood trails were spoty. All were decent hits.
For that reason my bear gun this year is my .416 Taylor Encore with Horn. 400 gr. DGX. Laugh?? I hate chasing bears. I'm getting too old for that.
For your .44 I'd go with 250 Keiths. For your .35, Nos. PTs or Xs.
Bears are wonderers. Very hard to pattern unless they have natural "baits", i.e. corn, apples, cherries.
Good luck.

Edited by wvhitman (04/18/19 08:29 PM)

#199072 - 04/18/19 08:28 PM Re: Advice for Novice_Bear Hunting in PA [Re: racksmasher1]
Pa. Mike

Registered: 07/10/09
Posts: 97
Loc: South Central Pa.

I would plan on sitting in the most promising spot you locate all day. I would opt for the SBHH in .44 mag. as a fast follow up shot may be needed. For the load I would choose a 240 grain jacketed softpoint or a hardcast. You did not mention if your SBHH was scoped or not but a low powered scope would be my choice in that type cover.

#199076 - 04/19/19 10:22 AM Re: Advice for Novice_Bear Hunting in PA [Re: Pa. Mike]
old hand

Registered: 02/12/05
Posts: 884
Loc: Central PA

Go with the 44 Magnum. I suggest a 300 grain JHP or a heavy hard cast. I carry 300 XTPs in my 44. When I hunt bear this year I will likely carry the 460XVR. I hunt PA bear but have never had an opportunity at one. Going with the advice of wvhitman I would carry the biggest gun you own. I suggest a stand on the best trail near the thickest cover on your land. If there are hunters on the nearby properties your best chance may come when a bear is spooked by another hunter. If the cover is thick the bears tend to use existing trails or logging roads for escape routes. Good luck!
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,... "
Matthew 28:19

Handgun hunter since 1979 - haven't used a rifle since!
HHI member #992, NRA, SCI.

#199085 - 04/19/19 04:35 PM Re: Advice for Novice_Bear Hunting in PA [Re: billa]

Registered: 03/02/19
Posts: 33

I hunt upstate NY, the bears are similar in size I think and the average here has been around 150 lbs. For me I would take my FA 454, but if I were to take my 44 I would go with 260 -300 gr hard cast with a large meplat, ie. WFN to get your best shot at 2 holes. Bears don't don't tend to bleed much even when hit with rifle, so if your track of land is small you'll need to anchor him quickly. Just my 2 cents worth...Good luck!

#199125 - 04/20/19 04:04 PM Re: Advice for Novice_Bear Hunting in PA [Re: NYhandgunner]

Registered: 09/01/12
Posts: 526
Loc: CSRA of GA/SC

I used to hunt black bear in PA in the 90s close to Coudersport

in Potter County. l hunted with an Army buddy and his family..

Didn't kill or see anything the years l hunted with them. We

hunted from their cabin in the area. The 'Old Man' or POP had

killed several over the years with his Savage99 lever in 300Sav.

l think he shot 180gr CoreLok Rem RNSPs.. lt was always a HOOT

watching the 2 boys telling POP how to hunt!! Esp when it came

time for POP to sight in his old Savage99 with its 2 1/2 Pwr Lyman scope..

They would nail a paper plate on a tree around 40 paces off. Then

tell him to Fire Away... He'd put 2 shots in the middle firing offhand.

Never more than two tho.. POP simply refused to ''waste'' ammo!!

#199142 - 04/21/19 12:01 AM Re: Advice for Novice_Bear Hunting in PA [Re: sw282]
Steve in PA

Registered: 10/23/10
Posts: 98
Loc: Luzerne County, PA

I might sit at my favorite deer/bear spot for the opening hour or so, but then I slow checking out other spots for deer.

I live south of Scranton and there are a lot of good areas for bear. I've seen quite a few, but only managed to get a small one with a handgun several years ago. I was using a Super Blackhawk loaded with 240 grain XTP.

In my scoped Super Redhawk, I shoot either 240 or 300 grain XTP. My SBH seemed to like the 240's a little, so I stuck with them.

I also hunt with a scoped T/C Contender in .44 Magnum (and 7-30 Waters). I've been shooting the 240's out of the .44 Mag T/C. The longer 14" barrel gives the load a little more velocity over the 7.5" SBH or 9.5" SRH.

In my 7-30 Waters, I've had great success with the 139 grain bullets.

As you can see, I'm a die-hard handgun hunter. My goal this year is to get a respectable bear with one of my handguns.

#199155 - 04/22/19 09:28 AM Re: Advice for Novice_Bear Hunting in PA [Re: Steve in PA]

Registered: 11/17/15
Posts: 142
Loc: North Alabama

I appreciate all the advice. Also after reading the rules, I would say having a donut with you at a stand might get you in trouble <smile>.

I beleive I will opt for the .44 Mag SBHH and it is scoped with newly acquired Leupold variable. I am getting good groups with the 300 gr XTP but I have bought some 240's to try. I also have some 180's but I think I will leave them for the GP-100 .44 Special. Thanks again to all.
First Handgun Deer: ~1982 8" S&W .38Spl
SW 686 4" with Matchdot II
SBHH .45LC 7.5"
Contender G2 .35-30/30 (Bellm), .22LR, .22 Hornet

#199162 - 04/22/19 07:10 PM Re: Advice for Novice_Bear Hunting in PA [Re: short30]

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 381
Loc: Massachusetts New England


I know that the rules for black bear hunting in Pennsylvania can be quite restrictive. No bait or dogs. I do believe scents are a no no as well.

I was wondering if the possibility of using a call would be the way to go?

Here in Massachusetts you cannot use bait or dogs. But there is no restriction on using an electronic call for black bear. I have some bear calls on my Fox pro.

I am not sure if e callers are legal in PA but I suspect if not you could try some kind of handcall.

I know that here in Massachusetts most hunters who are successful find signs in a cornfield that is being raided by bears. They will set up a treestand in a spot which shows evidence of bears coming in to eat up the corn.

Anyways I do wish you the best of luck.

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