State parks to offer four controlled deer hunts

This year, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is going to have four state park controlled deer hunts.

These parks are Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park in Wood County, Pipestem Resort State Park in Summers County, Cacapon Resort State Park in Morgan County and North Bend State Park in Ritchie County.

Multiple-day hunts are scheduled at Cacapon and North Bend State Parks for the first time.

Such controlled hunts have been successful when it comes to deer management in past years. It is a well-proven fact, hunting is the most effective and efficient means of maintaining a biologically and socially balanced deer population in the state parks.

I have often heard people who don’t hunt ask the question, “Why doesn’t the state try to relocate these beautiful animals, instead of killing them?” This has been tried in years past. The wildlife biologists have learned from trial and error that such an idea or program is expensive and quite often does not yield satisfactory results.

The deadline to apply is Aug. 13. All West Virginia hunting regulations will apply. Applicants with a DNR ID number must log in using their existing account on the new Electronic Licensing and Game Checking System.

The dates for the 2017 controlled hunts in the state parks are as follows:

• Blennerhassett Island — Sept. 25 and Oct. 23.

• Pipestem Resort — Oct. 9 and 10.

• Cacapon Resort — Nov. 3 and 4.

• North Bend — Nov. 6-8 and 13-15.

Applications must be submitted at www.wvhunt.com. Once logged in, applications must select “enter lottery.” From there, they must choose only one of the hunting options to hunt. Multiple entries for the same park may disqualify the applicant. The applications must be completed by midnight, Aug. 13. The hunters will be selected at random. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of August.

These controlled deer hunts are beneficial in many ways. They prevent over-browsing by the deer, which leads to the loss of vegetation. Over-browsing prevents forest regeneration and alters habitats for all of the other species of wildlife living in the park. The controlled hunts reduce the deer numbers to levels that prevent habitat loss.

Controlled hunts also reduce property damage, vehicle collisions and the possibility of human injuries, not only in public recreational facilities but nationwide as well. All sport hunting contributes to wildlife conservation while maintaining healthy game animal populations.

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On Monday, I loaded up my groundhog rifle and went hunting in a large open meadow. This is the first time I have hunted groundhogs in well over 10 years.

I got into the field at about 7 p.m. It was just too hot to go any earlier. I was in the field for no more than one hour, because a thunderstorm was moving in, and the lightning was really getting close.

While I did not see one groundhog, I did observe more things that I did not expect to see. Within 20 minutes after getting out of my vehicle, I saw two turkeys that were about 100 feet from where I was standing.

When I was walking back to the car to get away from the approaching storm, I observed an average-sized beech tree that had a good bit of blight on it, but it was loaded with beech nuts. The turkeys will like this.

I would like to do some more groundhog hunting this weekend, but hot weather is in the forecast. If it is too warm to be outdoors, I will most likely be staying in an air-conditioned room and sipping a cold beverage.

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