Approximately 50 residents attended the annual West Virginia Division of National Resources Regulations Meeting held earlier this week at the Elkins Operations Center.
This is much better than last year's official attendance of 34. However, this is nowhere near to one percent of all the sportsmen and women of this generalized area of the state. Two distinguished figures at this meeting were Director of the DNR Frank Jezioro and DNR Commissioner David F. Turban of Morgantown.
I made my usual recommendations of making Kumbrabow State Forest into an older-aged deer management area and returning the regulations meeting to the old format. When this meeting was conducted under the classroom-type format, sportsmen were better informed about what the DNR was going to be doing for the next year or two.
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The 2012 Big Game Bulletin is now out. Last year's big game harvest figures are now official. In 2012, nimrods harvested a record 2,691 black bears for the bow and gun reasons combined. This is the fourth time the kill has been over 2,000 in the past five years. The top five counties were: Webster (223), Randolph (220), Pendleton (195), Pocahontas (194), and Fayette (192).
Hunters took 62 wild boars during the 2012 season. This is a remarkable increase from the 2011 harvest of 32. All of the kills came from Boone and Logan counties.
There were no reported kills in the other two counties (Raleigh and Wyoming) open for this season. The bulk of this harvest came from the Spruce-Laurel Fork area of the Little Coal River. This is close to the original release site when wild boars were introduced to West Virginia in 1971.
The total wild turkey harvest was 9,575 for spring gobbler and the fall season combined. This is down from 10,376 in 2011, or 8.4 percent. The spring gobbler harvest for 2012 was 8,303, which is the lowest since 1989 when 7,245 birds were taken. There are several factors that need to be considered in this picture that may require extensive survey studies by our game biologists. Mast was relatively abundant last year, but the distribution was inconsistent within the various ecological regions. Some areas were similar to the 2012 bumper crop of acorns, and others were lacking as in 2009. When there is spotty distribution, hunters often have to go to a different location to be successful.
In 2012, a total of 132,261 white-tailed deer were harvested with all the combined deer seasons. This includes all the special urban city archery hunts. Last year, 12 cities (Barboursville, Bethlehem, Bridgeport, Charleston, Harpers Ferry, Harrisville, North Hills, Parkersburg, Morgantown, Ronceverte, Weirton and Wheeling) reported a total of 713 deer kills. Other special hunts were conducted at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Pocahontas County, and on Blennerhassett Island State Park located on the Ohio River. Twenty-six deer were taken on NRAO property and 52 on Blennerhassett Island.
While the total harvest is down from the 2011 harvest of 135,696, or 2.5 percent, it is still the 23rd largest total deer harvest on record. The record total deer harvest for West Virginia is 255,356 set in 2002.
Like last year's spring gobbler harvest, there are many factors that need to be given serious consideration into this overall picture. One thing I have noticed is there are less hunters coming from out of state and the southern counties to deer hunt in this area. The high price of gasoline could be a leading reason for this. Other reasons to consider are the effects of Superstorm Sandy and the coyote problem we have had for the past 10 to 20 years.
The Big Game Bulletin has an abundance of valuable information for all sportsmen. It is readily available at the Elkins Operations Center on Ward Road, or it can be found online at www.wvdnr.gov.