Backwoods Extreme with David Orlowski


Does the following scenario strike a chord somewhere inside of a need to hunt big game?

Does walking up a forest logging road just as daylight is just beginning to break through the darkness of the overhead canopy sound interesting to you? As you walk, you know that you’ll shortly reach your intended stand sight that you’ve scouted out and selected for Pennsylvania’s first October bear hunt.

A couple of hours have passed; the sun is slowly climbing skyward. Its warmth has lulled you to the point that you’re about to nod off, but out of the corner of your eye you catch a slight movement. You stare intently into the forest understory but nothing moves. You’re sure it wasn’t the shadows from the six-foot tall mountain laurel bushes blowing in the breeze.

Minutes tick by and, suddenly, there he is. He appears like magic, without a sound, seemingly materializing out of thin air. You wonder how something so big can slip through the woods with barely a sound.

Slowly he walks the length of an old rotted log before closing to within 10 yards of you. He’s close enough that you notice the small ears, creased forehead and stocky face which tells you this is a very large black bear.

As he lowers his head and sniffs the ground, you raise your muzzleloader to your shoulder and wait until he offers a perfect broadside shot. You get the angle happens when he steps forward and offers a good heart, lung shot opportunity.

The muzzleloader roars, smokes fills the air and you hear the bear roar out loud somewhere on the other side of the muzzleloader’s smoke cloud.

That is followed up by the sound of brush crashing somewhere down the hillside below. It continues for less than a minute, which is followed by a eerie death moan and then silence.

Still, you sit tight for a few minutes until your adrenaline rush ceases, and then climb down to go retrieve your black bear. Only to have adrenaline surge through your veins a bit more once you’re kneeling over the bear and relive the moment again.

If this sounds like a big game hunt you would like to partake in, it will be readily available next month during the new Pennsylvania October muzzleloader bear hunt. That will take place the same week as the October antlerless muzzleloader hunt from Oct. 19 thru the 26.

That means you’ll be sharing the woods with the senior/junior antlerless deer hunters, which can be a good thing as the more hunters moving about makes for a better chance of a bear being bumped your way.

If you are already participating in the deer hunt, you may as well purchase a bear tag as the bear population is at an all-time high. Or if you’re only interested in pursuing bears, now is as good a time as any as bear will be feeding heavily on acorns in preparation for the coming winter.

So come on out with your flintlock, inline or percussion .44 caliber or larger muzzleloader and join the rest of us enjoying the added season the Game Commission has given us.

David Orlowski is a writer, hunter, fisherman and outdoor enthusiast from Potter County. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association.