Paul McMahon took to the woods near his Lake George home during the opening weekend of muzzlestuffer season in search of some venison for the freezer. What he encountered was a bruin of a whole different color in the 300-pound plus variety. McMahon, a veteran outdoorsman with a number of trophies to his credit taken with bow, muzzleloader and rifle, had yet to add a black bear to the list. That all changed Oct. 14 while McMahon was hunting with his son Josh. The afternoon sun was warm as the duo made there way along the base of Darling Mountain when Paul heard the unmistakable crunch of something feeding above him. It sounded like a couple deer feeding above me, Paul said. I listened for 20-30 minutes. When he finally stepped out, I saw black and realized it was a bear. The bear emerged at about 60 yards and Pauls shot was true. The bruin plunged down the hillside about 40 yards before dropping. I didnt find a drop of blood, even though he was hit through the lungs, McMahon said. But his tracks in the leaves were easy enough to follow. McMahon enlisted the help of another of his sons to drag the huge bear to the road and headed to Nemecs Sport Shop in Warrensburg where it sits atop the leader board in the contest there. It tipped the scales at 308 pounds and stood 7 feet tall. Chris at Nemecs said the bear is by far the largest entered to date. Most, he said, are in the 150-200 pound range. But DEC Biologist Ed Reed said 300 pounds is about average for a male black bear. A female of that size is much more rare, he said. A 300 pound female would be exceptional, as the average is about 170 pounds, Reed said. To reach 300 pounds, the male bear McMahon shot was probably at least three years old, Reed said. Early indications reveal that the bear take in the Adirondacks will be up significantly over the past couple years, but probably wont hit the record harvest set in 2003, Reed said. As of Oct. 18, 284 bears had been reported taken from the Adirondacks. Another 50 reports were called in from the Catskills, and 7 from the Allegany region. Chris said many hunters have complained about the warm weather to date a situation I definitely encountered myself. Gotta love swatting gnats from your face on watch and hunting in a t-shirt. The weather has also affected weigh-ins at area contests. Chris said 25 deer have been weighed in at Nemecs so far, including one 214-pound 9-pointer taken with a muzzleloader in Indian Lake. One piebald deer was weighed in, and an unusual spikehorn that was shot in Thurman which had one normal spike on one side and another that dropped down along the side of its face, ending in a dark ball of horn. At the Cobble Hill Inn in Elizabethtown, just one deer had been weighed in as of press time, of the more than 300 people entered. Im guessing things will pick up dramatically this weekend.
The trapping season for many furbearers including raccoon, red fox, gray fox, bobcat, fisher, and coyote opens Oct. 25 Additionally, most of northern New York will be open for the trapping of mink and muskrat. This year, trappers must follow new regulations concerning the use of conibears. The new regulations require that body gripping traps be set on land in a manner that will minimize or reduce the chance that a dog may accidently be caught. Trappers should carefully check this years Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide to confirm the open dates and seasons for each furbearing animal, along with the regulations about the setting of traps. This guide can also be viewed on the DEC website at