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Hooks and Antlers Sunday Column


“We had more bears than deer on our club this fall.”

I heard that remark or a similar one from members of five different hunting clubs in the Adirondacks. Indeed, the common report of “big woods” hunters for 2011 was that deer numbers were way down, and bear numbers were on the rise. Because of these reports, I expected a high bear take for the Adirondack Region.

Instead, the 201 harvest was 47 percent lower than the previous year’s take.

Adirondack hunters shot 275 black bears this past season, a number well below the 2010 total of 521 bears and well below the five-year average of 556 bears. In fact, the 2011 harvest marks the lowest kill in over 20 years. During that period, 1998 saw a similar low take of 277 bears while the highest bear harvest occurred in 2003 when hunters shot 1,370 black bears.

Bear Take by Season

During the Early Bear Season, hunters took 70 bears, a number far below the 2010 Early Season harvest of 255 bears. Archers arrowed only three bears during the Bowhunting Season while muzzleloaders accounted for a nine-bear kill during the Muzzleloading Season. During the Regular Season, Adirondack hunters shot 193 bears which was 33 more than the previous year.

This increased Regular Season take lends credibility to the claim of “more bear than deer on our club.”

Bear Take by County , Town

St. Lawrence led all Adirondack counties with a bear take of 55 while Hamilton saw a harvest of 43 bears, Herkimer had a take of 33 bears, and Warren had a harvest of 27 bears. The 2011 bear kill for Lewis, Jefferson, Franklin counties was 25, 21, and 17 respectively.

The top-three-producing towns in St. Lawrence County and their 2011 takes were Colton (16), Clifton (9), and Piercefield (8). Herkimer’s top-three towns were Webb (17), Ohio (7), and Salisbury (5). In Lewis County, Diana produced seven bears, Greig produced six bears, and Lyonsdale produced four bears.

Three Jefferson County townships saw 2011 bear kills, and they were Wilna (10), Antwerp (8), and LeRay (3). The only town in Franklin County to yield more than two bears was Waverly where hunters took four black bears.

Statewide Bear Take

New York has three bear-hunting regions: Adirondack, Central-Western, and Southeastern. In contrast to the low harvest in the Adirondack Region, the 2011 takes in the Central-Western and Southeastern regions were record-setting. Central and Western hunters shot 353 bears significantly surpassing the previous high take of 198 bears in 2008 while Southeastern hunters took 630 bears surpassing that regionís previous high take of 520 bears in 2008. The dramatic increase in Central-Western and Southeastern harvests can be attributed to growing black bear populations and to increased hunting opportunities. The statewide harvest for 2011 was 1,258 bears. This total is higher than both the 2010 total of 1,064 bears and the previous 5-year average of 1,152 bears.

10 Heaviest Bears

Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted to DEC in one-third of the reports. Of those reported weights, the largest bear was a 550-pound male taken in Steuben County during the Regular Season. The second largest was a 510-pound male shot in Allegany County during the Regular Season.

A Hamilton County muzzleloader shot the number-three bear, a 480-pound male. Sullivan County produced the fourth and fifth heaviest bears, a 465-pound male (Bowhunting Season) and a 464-pound male (Regular Season). The next three heaviest bears weighed 452 pounds, 450 pounds, and 446 pounds, and they were shot in Orange (Bowhunting), Broome (Regular), and Ulster (Bowhunting) counties respectively.

Closer to home, St. Lawrence County produced the ninth heaviest bear for 2011. That animal weighed 425 pounds and was taken during the Regular Season in Wildlife Management Unit 6F in Colton.


Today—Great Outdoor Family Expo Returns to Fairgrounds YMCA in Watertown.

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