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Squirrel season is just the start of small game hunting

October 13, 2011
By Kenneth Cobb, Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

West Virginia's small game season kicked off with squirrel season on Sept. 10.

On that day, however, some were more interested in another kind of kickoff and spent the day watching the West Virginia University football game.

But with squirrel season running through Jan. 31, 2012, Hunters will get many more opportunities to get out and chase down some of the furry creatures.

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Squirrel season is by far one of the most popular seasons for hunters, especially for the younger ones, who are usually introduced to hunting during this season.

Early reports from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources indicate that the hickory mast production is good to excellent this year in most of the state. And hickory nuts are by far, bushytails' favorite food.

One potential problem, however, is warbles. One person who went out on opening day said that he harvested three squirrels, all of which had warbles.

Another person said that he and his grandson went out in the middle of the week in the afternoon and came home with five squirrels. Only one of them had warbles.

Some people feel that it is too early to be hunting squirrels, because of the warble situation in the warm weather.

Warbles are formed when butt flies lay eggs on young squirrels. The eggs eventually hatch and worms get under the skin of squirrels. When the temperatures begin to drop, however, the warbles fall out and die.

Warbles or not, hunters need to remember that the daily bag limit for squirrels is six.

Next up is the ruffed grouse season, which will open Oct. 15 and close Feb. 29, 2012.

Statewide brood reports from the DNR indicate that ruffed grouse are higher this year than they have been for the past two years.

Average chick counts are also higher. Grouse hunters should try to find an area that has ample cover with plenty of soft mast like dogwood, grapes, greenbrier and hawthorn.

Some are of the opinion that Randolph County is not prime grouse country, and that there is just too much forested acreage in this area. The daily bag limit for grouse is four.

Raccoon hunting season opens Oct. 15 and continues through Feb. 29, 2012.

The DNR seems to think that the raccoon population should be higher across the entire state. The daily bag limit is four.

The opening day for cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare is Nov. 5. The season will continue through Feb. 29, 2012.

As it is with ruffed grouse, Randolph County is not prime cottontail rabbit country. However, a few people from the DNR have said this is good snowshoe hare country in the higher elevations.

Some hunters believe that the best places to go after cottontail rabbits are in Jackson, Mason, Putnam and Roane counties.

Many hunters are of the opinion that to have a successful day of cottontail or snowshoe hunting, the hunter needs to have a dog in good physical condition.

The daily bag limit for cottontail rabbit is five, while the daily bag limit for snowshoe hare is two.

Other seasons that get under way on Nov. 5 include: Bobwhite quail, bobcat, red fox and gray fox.

Hunters need to be aware of both the daily and possession bag limits by studying the hunting and trapping regulations for the 2011-2012 seasons.



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