DNR puts out info and results

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has released the results of the questionnaires for the 2018-2019 big game season, the 2019-2020 small game hunting and trapping seasons, along with the 2019 fishing regulations. Individuals and various clubs approved of all of the changes the DNR was proposing for these various years by large margins. Several were more than 80 percent.

The proposed “Mountaineer Heritage Season” for black bear and deer in January 2019 was approved by 77 percent of the individuals and 81 percent of the clubs who responded the questionnaire. This unusual hunting season will be held Jan. 10-13, 2019. Only percussion or fllintlock muzzleloading rifles without scopes and long or recurve bows will be allowed during this special hunt.

The attendance at the Elkins regulations meeting totaled 18. This is very disappointing. I can remember back in the 1980s when this DNR regulations meeting was held at the National Guard Armory and the attendance would be well over 175. Elkins would often have the largest attendance of any of the locations in the state.

This year, the location that had the highest attendance was Martinsburg at 43. The location that had the lowest attendance was Lewisburg at five, closely followed by Weston at six.

Statewide, the total attendance was at 284. This is slightly up from the 2017 attendance of 247. I know several sportsmen continue to say, “It doesn’t matter what we recommend or say, the DNR will do what they want to.” This would be quite true, as long as the interest in the annual regulations meetings stays this low.

This year, 52 clubs totaling 7,766 members and 142 individuals submitted questionnaires. On the questionnaire, I recommended having continuous open season on all foxes, putting all big game data from 1923 to present online, and opening the squirrel season on the last Saturday in September. At the Elkins meeting, I made my usual recommendations, like turning Kumbrabow and Kanawha State Forests into older-aged deer management areas, returning the regulations meetings to the classroom-type format, and continuing with having year-round trout season.

Among the clubs and individuals who made recommendations, there were the ones that I would consider good, some that were not so good, and a few that were just senseless. While I don’t have enough space to list all of them, here are a few that I think will be of interest to area sportsmen and women.

In the deer-general, one club with 78 members and one individual want the DNR to prohibit all baiting of deer because of the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) concerns. Another club with 22 members want this new January season to be permitted with any kind of weapon.

In the deer buck-column, 13 individuals want a total two-buck statewide season limit. In the muzzleloader column, eight individuals are in support of the Mountaineer Heritage (January) Season. One individual wants the DNR to waive the blaze orange clothing requirement during this special season.

In the turkey column, there was only one individual who wanted the DNR to prohibit rifles during the spring gobbler season. Usually, there are several more. One club with 22 members would like to be able to hunt spring gobblers all day.

In the small game and miscellaneous columns, one club with 10 members and one individual want the DNR to fully close the bobwhite quail season.

Another club with 700 members wants the DNR to extend the otter harvest opportunities. One person would like for the DNR to reopen the Pedler Public Shooting Range that is located near Morgantown. One individual would like for the DNR to print a list of the cities that have urban deer hunts. A few years ago, I saw such a list, but I haven’t seen one lately.

In the trout column, three individuals want a daily trout limit of four statewide. Another person wants all brook trout to be catch and release.

I would like to see more individuals taking interest in the regulations meetings and more responses to the questionnaire. However, one person can only do so much.