Several hunting seasons open this month

September is the opening of some of the popular hunting seasons in West Virginia. The statewide squirrel season opened last Saturday.

In Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties, a special black bear gun season came in on Sept. 1 and will close this Sunday.

The statewide black bear and deer archery and crossbow seasons will come in on Sept. 29. These seasons will stay in through Dec. 31.

In Boone, Logan, Raleigh and Wyoming counties, the archery and crossbow season comes in for wild boar on the same date. This is just a short two weeks away.

Archery and crossbow hunters should have their shooting skills fully tuned up by now along with having their equipment ready for action. Hunters who use tree stands need to be checking their safety harness for damage and wear before they go hunting.

Remember, the vast majority of hunting injury accidents in West Virginia are from tree stand falls. This is often due to using worn out equipment.

Tree stand hunters need to follow the manufacture’s recommendations when it is time for replacement. Spending a few extra dollars is better than ending up with a crippling injury. Purchasing new equipment can also save a life.

The cool evenings we’ve had early this week would be an excellent time for rifle hunters to be checking out the sight-in on their firearms. It is also important to check old ammunition for corrosion, particularly if it has spent a few years in a hunting camp.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources conducts a mast survey each year.

According to WVDNR wildlife biologist Ethan Barton, who is stationed in the Romney area, “Squirrels should be more abundant this year than last year.”

Some mast was good last year for the busy-tails. This means a higher overwinter survival and more reproduction for squirrels in the following year.

If a rifle hunter (rimfire or centerfire) is going to use a different load this year, they need to get out to a shooting range to test the load. Remember that bullets of the same grain weight, but a different brand or manufacture will sometimes have different ballistic or grouping profiles. For example, I have one .22 rimfire rifle that doesn’t like this new hyper-velocity ammunition at all. At 50 yards, the shots are all over the paper target. At the same distance using standard or high velocity ammunition, it groups quite well.

Big game hunters need to check their centerfire rifles for accuracy. The also need to practice shooting form various distances and shooting positions they might encounter during the gun seasons to ensure proficiency. When sighting-in or testing a different brand of ammunition, try to shoot from a solid rest. At the same time, make sure the rifle bore is clear before shooting.

I know a lot of hunters like to oil the bores of their rifles when they store them after the previous hunting season. While there is nothing wrong with this, the oil coating needs to be removed before going to the shooting range. The gun oil, that comes with just about all gun cleaning kits, will protect the bore from moisture; as well as change the dimension of the bore.

All hunters need to check out the 2018-2019 hunting and trapping regulations. There are several changes this year that are listed on page one. The major one is that Sunday hunting is now legal on public hunting lands throughout the state, where hunting is permitted like any other day of the week. This includes: National Forests, state forests and Wildlife management areas.

I know there are individuals who enjoy taking a Sunday walk in the woods during a warm, fall afternoon. I highly recommend they wear some “blaze orange” on a upper outer garment that is at least 400- square inches as a safety factor.

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