Archery hunter harvests 500-pound bear

By Tom Venesky

The (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader

MOUNTAIN TOP — Devon Woolfolk didn’t expect to see a bear while he was archery hunting in Rice Township on Oct. 31.

In fact, Woolfolk wasn’t anticipating a bear walking in front of his treestand and offering a broadside shot.

But just in case the unexpected happened, Woolfolk purchased a bear license days earlier.

And it’s a good thing he did.

The Mountain Top resident spent the morning watching a small buck chase a doe 75 yards away. If the buck approached close enough, Woolfolk thought, he would take the shot.

All of a sudden, the buck and doe bolted away in opposite directions and Woolfolk wondered what caused the quick escape.

And then he saw a black blob appear on the hill where the deer had stood.

It was a bear, and Woolfolk watched in amazement as it slowly ambled directly toward him.

Once the bruin approached within 50 yards, Woolfolk started picking out shooting lanes in the woods.

At 13 yards, the bear stopped broadside to Woolfolk. With the scenario perfectly calculated, Woolfolk was ready and his shot was true, sending an arrow into the bear’s chest.

Fifty-five yards away Woolfolk found the bear and right away he knew he would need help. Woolfolk figured the bear weighed around 250 pounds, and his brother, Kyle, arrived to lend a hand.

“We couldn’t even move him,” Woolfolk said. “Other friends came to help and we rolled the bear onto a tarp, everyone grabbed a corner and we moved it a few feet at a time. It took us more than four hours to get it out of the woods.”

While Woolfolk’s shot calculation was perfect, it turns out his estimate of the bear’s weight was a bit underestimated. Pennsylvania Game Commission special investigator Dave Allen checked the bear and he used a chest tape to estimate the animal’s weight at 502 pounds.

But there was another aspect that made the hunt even more memorable. Woolfolk got to share the experience with his grandfather, Paul Sakowski, who passed away five days later at the age of 100.

“In the nursing home he was telling everyone about my bear,” he said.