Grouse, rabbit and squirrel seasons in

Grouse, rabbit and squirrel seasons in

For all practical purposes, the 2017-2018 hunting seasons are nearly over. Winter has set in and cold weather is in the forecast for this weekend. The big game hunting seasons are now history, and the weather picture for next week does not look at all favorable for this area.

For hunters who would still like to be in the outdoors, the cottontail rabbit, ruffed grouse and squirrel seasons don’t go out until Feb. 28. This may be a good time to consider going after the cottontail rabbits.

Rabbit hunting is not one bit like squirrel hunting. When I was a youngster and learning how to hunt as a teenager, my father was quick to tell me, “when you go rabbit hunting, you hunt the rabbits.”

He also went on to say, “To have a successful rabbit hunt, a good rabbit dog is necessary like a beagle or hound.”

In my younger hunting days, I had a female dog that was a cross between a Collie and a Samoyed. Bessie was a ball of energy, and she liked to go hunting. I enjoyed taking her out in the country just to watch her run.

Bessie was nowhere near to being what I would call a good rabbit dog. Her nose was not nearly as sensitive to that of a beagle, and when she did jump a rabbit, she was just too bast for the bunny. The rabbit would quickly hole-up.

I remember one time when she jumped a rabbit in a large open field when I was hunting in Roane County. When she got close to it, the rabbit stopping running, and Bessie went bounding right over it. The rabbit went off in another direction and left Bessie all confused.

While squirrels don’t hibernate, they just don’t stir around during the winter months like they do in the fall, unless the temperatures are unseasonably warm. Hunters in this area will most likely be wasting their time to be going after the bushy-tails this time of the year.

A good bird dog is a valuable asset for the hunter who enjoys going after the ruffed grouse this time of the year. The trouble for the grouse hunter is the fact that Randolph County is nowhere near to being prime grouse country. Close to 90 percent of this county is mature forested acreage.

It may seem like a long way off for some people, but all sportsmen and women need to be marking their calendars for March 12 and 13. This is when the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will be conducting the mandatory public regulations meetings at various locations throughout the state.The one for Elkins is scheduled for March 13.

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West Virginia gun owners need to be paying attention to this year’s session of the state legislature.

On Jan. 25, the West Virginia House of Delegates unanimously passed House Bill 2916. This bill will permit emergency service personnel or first responders like firefighters, ambulance workers, etc., to carry side arms when working.

This bill is sponsored by legislator David Pethtel (D) from Wetzel County. According to Bill 2916, the first responders would be permitted to carry a sidearm when working. They would have to pass a state police academy firearms course and maintain the certification. This bill would prevent government agencies from being held legally liable for the acts of armed officials if they are done in good faith while on the job. This bill also allows government agencies to reimburse participants for the expense of the necessary training.

A similar bill passed the house last year, but it died in the state Senate. If this bill becomes law it should not be controversial. Right now, West Virginia’s pistol carry laws are silent. Any citizen in good standing, over 21, can carry a pistol concealed in public without having any license or permit to carry. Since this took effect approximately two years ago, I have not seen any sharp increase in violent crime in this state.

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