There are currently 52 hunting and fishing clubs, totaling 9,821 member and 190 individuals who submitted questionnaires to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Operations Center.
This compares to 82 clubs, totaling 19,458 members and 450 individuals in 2013. I will give my own opinion about this meager participation in some future column.
Not all the news is bad regarding the attendance at the regulations meetings. For example, at the Elkins meeting, the official attendance was 54 and was the second highest of the 12 locations that had regulations meetings in 2014. This compares to 48 in 2013. The location with the highest attendance was Moorefield at 56.
Six locations (Beckley, Fairmont, Glen Dale, Logan, Milton and Parkersburg) had a decrease in attendance from their 2013 meetings. Moorefield's attendance was the same in 2013.
Martinsburg had an increase like Elkins. Two cities, Flatwoods and Princeton, had their first DNR meeting in several years with attendances of 16 and 39 respectively. Spencer had a very sharp decrease from their last DNR meeting held in 2012.
All of the DNR proposed regulations changes passed by large percentage margins by both clubs and individuals. This is also a bit of good news.
In the deer-general column, one club with a membership of 4,242 members was opposed to any firearms deer season in the four southern counties (Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming) where deer can only be hunted with a bow. This same club was also opposed to any bear and deer firearms seasons prior to the traditional buck gun season.
Two clubs totaling 420 members would like for the DNR to allow for the RG stamp to roll over to the antlerless season. This is the way it was conducted several years ago.
In the deer-buck column, one club with a membership of 375 would like for the DNR to turn Kumbrabow State Forest into an older-age deer management area. I have been supportive of this idea for several years. A retired state game biologist who I have known for several years once said, "This would be the best place in Randolph County to implement such an idea." Another individual would like for the Elk River Wildlife Management Area located in Braxton County be turned into an older-age deer management area.
In the deer-archery column, several clubs and individuals recommended various changes in the way the DNR conducts the bow and crossbow seasons. At the present time, it is unlawful to hunt or even be afield with a crossbow, except for the holders of Class Y or YY permits during designated archery seasons. The only people who can obtain a Class Y or YY are those who are physically challenged.
In the deer-antlerless column, one club with 80 members would like for the DNR to reduce the antlerless seasons in Randolph County. Three individuals would like for the DNR to totally close antlerless gun hunting in Tucker County.
In the bear hunting column, four individuals would like for the DNR to allow baiting for hunting bears. One club of 30 members and one individual would like to eliminate the early bear gun season due to its disruption of the bow season.
In the turkey column, several hunters have expressed opposition to hunting turkeys with rifles (spring and fall). Just about an equal number of hunters would like for things to stay as they are.
In the small-game column, there are seven individuals who say the squirrel season comes in too early; and 21 individuals would like for the squirrel season to be extended til the end of February. I have discussed this subject with several people (DNR game biologists and individuals) to the point where the topic has been run into the ground. My stand on this issue is this: Open the squirrel season on the last Saturday in September. With this set-up, the squirrel season would open as early as September 24th and as late as September 30th. I think the DNR is wise to close the squirrel season on January 31th.
In the fish-general column, I would like for the DNR to find a way to stock some quality game fish in the new Elkwater Reservoir in the Valley Head area of Randolph County, where there is a 54-acre surface lake of fresh water. They should be able to stock this new location with bluegill, various types of bass, catfish, crappie, along with walleye and yellow perch.
Speaking of fish, this month the Mountaineer Chapter Izaak Walton League will have its annual fish fry prior to the regular meeting.
Just thinking about it almost makes my mouth water.