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First bear hunted legally in Fulton County

December 05, 1996

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Last week on a Fulton County mountain ridge, Shane Koons got up close and personal with a giant black bear.

The 425-pound beast was lying at Koons' feet as he became the first hunter to legally kill a bear in that county.

"The animal was so beautiful. It was just coal black," he said.

Koons, 35, described the adventure as pure luck. It was his first attempt at bear hunting.

He decided to buy a bear-hunting license after seeing two bears three weeks earlier while bow hunting for deer near Lockard Trail in Todd Township.

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Koons went back to the area with his rifle before dawn on Nov. 25, the first day of Pennsylvania's annual three-day bear season.

He sat in wait for awhile. When he didn't see any bears, he started walking.

At 9:50 a.m., less than an hour later, he saw his prey about 150 yards away.

That moment was unlike any other he's had in a lifetime of hunting. He was excited and nervous. He found himself starting to breathe as hard as if he had just run a marathon.

"When I put that bear in the scope it was all over the place," he said. "I settled down a little bit and took the shot."

The bear didn't see Koons. It was climbing some rocks heading away from him. Koons aimed for the bear's shoulder but hit his head instead.

Then, he had to figure out how to get it out of the woods.

He field dressed the bear like he has done more than 30 times with deer. Then he went for help.

It took five men to drag the bear out of the woods.

Koons had a second moment of excitement when he loaded the bear on the back of his GMC Yukon and noticed the tag had fallen off the bear's ear. The tag confirms it is a legal bear kill.

Koons and his brother looked in the woods for 45 minutes, but couldn't find the tag.

"I started to sweat it then," he said.

But a district forester who had helped him with the bear verified that he saw the tag and it had simply been lost.

Then, he had to drive to Huntingdon, Pa., to have the bear checked by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Dressed, the bear weighed in at 358 pounds.

The game commission collected a skin sample, to be used in a study of mange.

It also took a tooth, which will be used to determine the bear's age. Every year, the state sends about 2,000 bear teeth to a laboratory in Montana, which counts rings in the teeth much like rings on a tree.

In about 10 months, the Koons family will have a six-foot bear rug.

They had 100 pounds of the bear meat made into sweet bologna. They have 40 pounds of meat in their freezer.

"I guess I'll fry some of it just to say we ate it," said Shane's wife, Tina.

Their two daughters, Sheena, 7, and Brittany, 9, thought it was pretty cool their dad got a bear.

But 3-year-old Blaine was a little scared.

Koons, who works at Antrim House Restaurant, said his bear hunting career may be over.

"I don't know that I want to kill another bear," he said, after seeing the great animal so close.

No one has ever legally killed a black bear in Franklin County, although there is believed to be a small bear population there.

After Koons got his bear, another man bagged the second legal bear in Fulton County history.

Thomas Fisher of Crystal Springs, Pa., took a 254-pound bear on Tuesday in Brush Creek Township, said game commission spokesman Don Garner.

Garner expects bear hunting to become more popular and successful in Fulton County.

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