Hunting seasons to feature changes

The 2017-2018 Hunting and Trapping Regulations are now available online at www.wvdnr.gov. The regulations booklet should soon be available at the Elkins Operations Center and any place that sells hunting licenses.

For all practical purposes, they are about the same as last year, with only one major change that I could see so far. Sunday hunting will be legal in all 55 counties on private land only, with the change going into effect this Sunday. Hunters, however, must have in their possession the written permission from the landowner to be able to hunt on such land on Sundays.

The bushy-tail (squirrel) season will open on Sept. 9 and run through Feb. 28. Here is one place where I have somewhat of a disagreement with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the DNR tried something similar in several of the Southern counties in the state. Kanawha County, where I was a resident, was one of them.

I was on military leave the first year they tried this experiment On the opening day of this early season, I got a nice fox squirrel at about 7 a.m. It was a female that was still nursing young because this squirrel was loaded with milk.

Instead of killing one squirrel, I may have killed as many as 10 squirrels. This idea was not one bit popular with the sportsmen and women in southern West Virginia. The DNR did away with this early squirrel season in the mid-1970s.

The youth squirrel season will open on Sept. 2. I just wish I could find a youth to take hunting, but not on that date. The various youth hunting seasons are important for the future of sport hunting nationwide. The problem is being able to get the kids away from the computer games and other school activities to take them hunting.

When I was in junior high and high school, several of the kids throughout the state would take their guns to school so they could go hunting when school let out in the afternoon. The guns had to be cased. The students would check their guns and ammunition in at the office. At the end of the school day, it was just a simple matter of stopping by the office to pick everything up. Today, such an idea would be considered insane by some people.

One of the minor changes in this year’s hunting season include the antlerless deer firearms hunting dates, along with the counties and wildlife management areas (WMAs) that will be open for antlerless deer firearms hunting. This year, Randolph, Tucker and Webster counties will be open to unlimited antlerless gun hunting for resident and non-resident hunters with a bag limit of one.

The dates for hunting antlerless deer with a gun include Oct. 26-28 on private land only. The antlerless season will reopen on Nov. 20 and run through Dec. 2, then on Dec.14-16 and on Dec. 28-31.

On these last three antlerless hunting seasons, hunting will be permitted on private and public land. In Randolph County, the Beaver Dam, Cheat and Tea Creek WMAs of the national forest are closed to antlerless gun hunting.

Barbour and Grant, along with the eastern portion of Pendleton County, will have unlimited antlerless gun hunting on the same dates with a bag limit of three. Upshur County will also be open to unlimited antlerless gun hunting with a bag limit of three on the same dates with a special deer hunting regulation.

In Upshur and several other counties in the state, hunters will be required to take an antlerless deer during the antlerless deer gun seasons, prior to harvesting a second antlered (buck) deer.

Last year, I was happy just to be able to get one deer, and most hunters I know usually stop at two. Hunters need to consult the latest antlerless gun hunting regulations for details. As in years past, I highly recommend that all hunters study the new regulations so they are fully understood.

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