Fairview Twp. hunter nabs 340-pound black bear

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
From left: Michael Nutter, Paul Rodrigo Jr. and Paul "Smoke" Rodrigo III pose with the 340-pound black bear Nutter killed on Dec. 6.

Michael Nutter has only been bear hunting for about six years, but the Fairview Township man already has two kills under his belt.

Nutter, 53, was hunting with his brother-in-law, Paul "Smoke" Rodrigo III, and father-in-law, Paul Rodrigo Jr., when Nutter killed a 340-pound bear with a rifle on Thursday, Dec. 6, near Reeser's Summit in Fairview Township.

"They were just as much if not more excited than me," Nutter said of his hunting companions.

Nutter killed his first bear in 2017 in Lycoming County. That one weighed 150 pounds, and its front quarters are mounted on a wall in Nutter's home.

The average weight of a harvested bear in Pennsylvania is 158 pounds, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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The three men were hunting on the land behind Rodrigo Jr.'s house when Nutter got the bear.

After Nutter made the shot, the hunters tracked the animal until dark on Thursday. Nutter had to work Friday morning, but the other two, along with Nutter's uncle-in-law, Tom Rodrigo, continued the search.

They found the bear Friday about 300 yards from where it was shot, at the end of a drainage tunnel that passes under Interstate 83.

"When they found it, they called me and I left work and came to help drag it out," Nutter said.

The 150-pound bear Nutter shot in 2017 in Lycoming County is mounted on the wall of his Fairview Township home.

Travis Lau, spokesman for the state Game Commission, said bear harvests are rare in York County and that it's even more rare to harvest a bear of this size.

Lau said it will take about nine to 10 months for the commission to determine the age of Nutter's bear, but he estimates it was probably 2 or 3 years old and may have been living in the area for a while.

"It’s pretty unlikely once bears get to be to adults, age 2 or older, that they really roam to find a new place to live," he said.

When Nutter's 340-pound bear returns from the taxidermist, it will be a full mount, standing on its hind legs with one paw reaching up to a beehive that Rodrigo Jr. found outside.

Nutter and his wife, Jennifer Nutter, gained not only a new piece of home decor but also about 110 pounds of meat. Michael Nutter said they plan to incorporate the bear meat into their homemade venison sausage.

The state Game Commission reports on its website that the total bear harvest currently recorded for 2018 is 3,114 bears. That number includes bears harvested during the early season, archery season, regular season and extended season, which ended Dec. 8 in York County.

Lau said there will likely be more bears added to that number before the final bear harvest report is released in early 2019. That is because the number above only reflects harvested bears that have been officially recorded and added to the commission's database, a process that can sometimes take a few months, Lau said.

Nutter said he began hunting as a 16-year-old but in recent years had drifted away from the hobby. It wasn't until he met his wife that he returned to the sport, he said.

"My father-in-law and brother-in-law, they actually got me back into hunting," he said. "It’s really thanks to them that I got this."