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Bear hunting popular in the early 1900’s

By Staff | Dec 18, 2014

Bear hunters in 1919 included (L-R): Bruce Gordner, Freeman Temple, Robert Smith, Madison Smith, John Steinruck, and Parson Gordner.

In 1919, a group of local hunters took to the mountains near Columbia County’s Jamison City. The sportsmen engaged in the guiding services of Freeman Temple who in addition to leading hunts for local clientele, scheduled and guided the same for men arriving by train from Philadelphia and Baltimore.

The hunters pictured were from nearby Lycoming County, namely the Unityville-Lairdsville area. Note the double barrel shotguns. Oral history related say, “That day, the men had opportunity to harvest six bear, but opted to take three as displayed on the hood and headlights of the 1917 Maxwell car. Due to processing practices in that era, the hunters would not have had time to prepare the meat before spoilage.”

Though its unlawful now, in 1919 dogs were allowed to aid hunters in chasing down the bruins. In this photograph taken near Benton, even the canines were identified. The hounds included Towser, Brade, Bob, Rex and Air.

Among the group, Robert and Madison Smith were brothers and Parson Gordner a brother-in-law. Many descendants of the Smith-Gordner families currently remain in the area; among them Gerald Gordner, Rod Bitler and Carl Smith Jr of Muncy; and Frank Shetler of Picture Rocks.

Bear hunting season usually takes place for three days in late November.