On the day before Christmas, I was reading the Pocahontas Times, which is a weekly newspaper, online. I saw an interesting feature in the paper's 50 years ago column. In 1963, West Virginia hunters harvested a record number of deer during the six-day bucks-only gun season, with a statewide kill of 7,573. This broke the previous record of 6,466 set in 1949.
Two weeks ago, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources announced in a news release that in 2013 West Virginia hunters harvested 56,333 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, and this was the 27th highest season in all the recorded antlered buck-gun seasons. Pocahontas County in 2013 had a preliminary buck harvest figure of 976. In 1963, Pocahontas County finished sixth with a harvest of 376, which was exactly the same figure in 1962.
In 1963, Pocahontas County was the top county for legal bear kills with a total of 12. In 2012, Pocahontas County was the leading county for the firearms black bear seasons with a harvest of 183.
In 1963, DNR game biologists estimated the state total black bear population at 500. In 2012, West Virginia hunters harvested a record 2,691 bears during the combined archery and firearms seasons.
It is very true, deer and black bear hunting is not what it used to be in West Virginia 50 years ago. All informed sportsmen and women should be mighty glad that it isn't.
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The WVDNR is now providing a new service online for everyone who likes to hunt and fish. It is called the new mapping explorer tool that can be brought up at www.wvdrn.gov. With this new service, residents can find stocked trout streams or lakes, wildlife management areas, check-in stations, license agents, public shooting ranges, and more.
From the introductory page, click on either button for Fishing or Hunting/Trapping to open the map. On the right side of the screen, there will be several menus and sub-menus. The search menu contains three drop menus, and each one will permit a person to zoom in to a place of interest to a list and map to other features of a certain region.
The researcher may choose to search within a county, within a 15-mile radius of a city or town, or within a 10-mile radius from a public hunting or fishing area. The results menu contains the results of one's search. These results are sorted as to public hunting areas, check-in stations, public shooting ranges, etc. Each result is click-able, and when it is clicked, the map will zoom in to an area where the resource is located on the map.
I spent some time on the computer studying and trying out this new service last week. I really think state anglers and hunters will like this new service provided by the DNR.
I have often stated people in this state don't realize how much is available to them when it comes to having places to hunt or fish.
With this new service, maybe, just maybe, residents will realize the DNR means it when it says there are more than 1.5 million acres of public land in West Virginia that is open for public hunting and fishing, and this figure continues to grow.