Small game season in high gear

It is now the first weekend of November. A large percentage of the leaves are still on the trees with about one-third of them still green.

West Virginia’s fall hunting season is really in high gear. This past Monday, the split fall wild turkey season reopened for Grant, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, Tucker and Webster counties. This season will remain in until Nov. 18. The second half of the small game season opens today for bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbit, ring-necked pheasant, red and gray fox (both hunting and trapping), bobcat (hunting and trapping), and Snowshoe hare. Most of these seasons will remain open until Feb. 28.

This year hunting will be permitted on Sunday for private land only. However, the individual must have in their possession the written permission from the landowner to hunt on Sunday.

On Friday morning of last week, I went out on a different area of the national forest that I have not hunted in for at least two years. On this four-hour hunt, I saw five squirrels and got two using a .22 rimfire rifle. I heard at least four more squirrels barking, but the leaves were so heavy I wasn’t able to locate them. The rain mixed with snow we got last weekend, along with cold weather we are having, should change some of this.

While I was out last week, I think I heard two turkeys in the distance. Once again, due to the heavy leaves, I was not able to locate the birds. It was about four years ago when I jumped a large turkey in this same area where I was squirrel hunting. The fall turkey season was in, but I was not able to get off a shot because the turkey saw me first. I have only taken one turkey in all my years of hunting, and it was with the same .22 rifle I was hunting with last week.

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For at least 20 years, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the United States Forest Service, have conducted a program for hunters with physical challenges or disabilities. This special program is for Class Q/QQ hunting permit holders. Paul Johansen, chief of the WVDNR Wildlife Resources Section, said, “There are also many state-owned wildlife management areas that have designated roads for disabled hunters.”

Class Q (resident) and QQ (nonresident) special hunting permit holders are issued by the DNR to applicants who are permanently disabled in the lower extremities as certified by a licensed physician. The application can be obtained at any DNR office or licensing agent. Successful permittees will be issued a wallet-sized permit card. Then the card must be presented in person at the appropriate national forest or WVDNR district office to receive a letter of authorization and a gate key for use on designated Class Q/QQ roads.

These certain access roads are generally kept locked to ensure hunting opportunities along the road for disabled hunters. While behind the gates, the Class Q/QQ hunters must obey all national forest and/or state WMA rules and, naturally, all state hunting regulations. All appropriate documentation, licenses and stamps must be in the hunter’s possession while they are hunting. When hunting within a designated area, the disabled hunter may hunt from a stationary motor vehicle as long as the engine is turned off. The permittee may be accompanied by no more than one assistant, who is at least 16 years old, inside the vehicle. The assistant may not hunt while assisting the Class Q/QQ permit holder.

Johansen went on to say, “We’re proud of the successes we have had with this program, but we’re always looking for ways to improve it and increased participation.” The WVDNR and the U.S. Forest Service are committed to providing quality hunting regardless of anyone’s level of physical ability.

Some of the Class Q/QQ roads in this area of Monongahela National Forest are as follows:

• Goodwin Run (Forest Road 933), Tucker County.

• Brushy Ford (Forest Road 973), Tucker County.

• Five Lick (Forest Road 153/153A), Randolph County.

• Back Ridge (Forest Road 814), Pendleton County.

• Little Beech Mountain (Forest Road 385, 183B), Randolph County.

For more information about the Class Q/QQ access roads, check the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov and the DNR Map tool under the “Hunting” menu.

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