On July 31 I received my mast survey condition papers from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. I will most likely be a cooperator for Randolph County this year. For the past 10 to 15 years, I have tried to get other hunters involved with this program with little success. Although Randolph County may have more cooperators than the vast majority, there is still the need for more outdoorsmen and women to be involved with this program.
This year, the DNR would like to have at least four surveys from each county. This would be an outstanding goal to strive for.
This interest in mast surveys appears to be increasing among wildlife agencies in other states. A few states in the northeast are trying a uniform mast survey. All people who hunt in West Virginia should be proud of our game biologists for having the foresight to see the need for this information more than 30 years ago. The years of data collected by the DNR can measure the annual impact of mast conditions and test this with other variables affecting wildlife.
I have not been in the woods this summer because it has just been too hot and humid. When I was walking though town this week, the humidity was really making me sweat. However, the deadline for getting this report to the Operations Center is Sept. 1, so I still have a little bit of time.
If anyone would like to participate in this program, call Tammie Thompson at 304-637-0245. Last year, the DNR received 290 reports on mast conditions statewide. This compares to 295 in 2009 and 326 in 2007. Any newcomers to this program would certainly be welcomed.
I have talked to a few hunters from the Huttonsville/Mill Creek area. They have told me that certain mast, such as apples and white oak, have hit good in this location. I have also seen some large white oak trees on Robert E. Lee Avenue that appear to be loaded with acorns.
As far as wildlife sightings are concerned, I am seeing more young rabbits along the secondary roads this year than I have seen in several years, and this is good. I have never considered Randolph County prime rabbit country because there is just too much forested acreage in this county.
Several people have told me that the bears have increased to where they could soon be a real problem. I have said in past columns that I do not have any desire to shoot a bear, but more hunters may have to start going after these critters.
For the past year to a year and a half, a few of my readers have asked me if I am paid by the WVDNR to write this column. The answer to this question is an emphatic no. I have always considered myself a person who can think for himself. When I am in agreement with the WVDNR's actions and opinions, I have been willing to express that agreement. I have also stated at times that I do not like an option. Of course, we are always free to express our opinions to the staff at the DNR and to our friends. It is important to be proactive and willing to express what we feel on these subjects.