Trophy hunts can be found here in state

Carbon County has produced more big game entries in the Boone and Crockett record book than any other county in the country.

In fact, Carbon County has produced 282 record book animals, 92 more than second place Mendocino County in California.

But before you plan on heading southeast next hunting season in hopes of taking a trophy in Carbon County, you had better head west instead.

The Carbon County that has produced the most Boone and Crockett records is in the state of Wyoming, and those 282 entries are all for pronghorn antelope.

Earlier this fall Boone and Crockett released a list of the top 125 trophy counties in the United States. The list is based on trophy data going back all the way to 1830 and it’s a good measure of habitat, recruitment of animals living into older aging classes and elements of sound wildlife management.

Most of the counties on the list are in the west, with states such as Wyoming (antelope, bison, Shiras’ moose), California (blacktail deer), Montana (bighorn sheep) and Arizona (desert sheep, mule deer, black bear and elk) leading the way.

No counties in eastern states made the list, but that’s probably a result of size. Carbon County in Wyoming, for example, is almost 8,000 square miles – nearly as large as the entire state of Vermont. Carbon County, Pennsylvania, is only 387 square miles.

Just because the counties in western states have the advantage when it comes to size, it doesn’t mean that plenty of trophy animals – deer and bear, can’t be found right here in Pennsylvania. Our black bears are known as some of the largest in the country, and our record book deer have been increasing every year since the onset of antler restrictions.

As a result, there are “trophy” counties in Pennsylvania – places that have produced the most entries into the Big Game Record Book maintained by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (based on the top 50 entries).

When it comes to record black bears taken in Pennsylvania (firearm and archery), Carbon County – the one in the Keystone State, has produced the most entries with seven. Lycoming is second with six, followed by Pike, Tioga and Luzerne with five each.

Of the top 10 trophy bear counties in the state, seven are in the northeast region. Somerset is the lone southwest county in the top ten and Lycoming, which is the largest in the state at 1,244 square miles, has the obvious size advantage to lead the northcentral.

When it comes to trophy bucks in Pennsylvania, the southwest is known for producing large racks. That’s why it’s no surprise that Allegheny is tops with five entries (typical category, based on the top 50 entries), but there is another place that has kept pace.

And it’s Bradford County right here in the northeast. In fact, Bradford County lays claim to have the largest typical buck ever harvested in Pennsylvania – a 189-inch monster taken in 1943.

Overall, the southwest is strong with six counties placing in the top 10. The only other northeast region county to make the top 10 was Sullivan with two entries.

When it comes to bear and deer combined, Bradford County is the place to go with eight total entries. Somerset is second with six entries.

Considering that Bradford County has produced the biggest typical buck ever taken in Pennsylvania, is tied for the lead in the most deer entries and is tied for eighth in record book bears, it’s safe to declare it as Pennsylvania’s trophy county.

Bradford has an advantage in size with 1,161 square miles and plenty of remote haunts where trophy deer and bear can reach the old ages needed to grow large.

When it comes to trophy big game animals, the Western states can’t be beat. While a hunting trip out West may increase your trophy odds, your chances are still pretty good right here in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Tom Venesky

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