DNR proposals could bring some changes

I attended the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Public Regulations meeting held last week at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

This year, all state sportsmen and women would do well to get one of the questionnaires, study it and fill it out. There are a total of 22 questions on this year’s questionnaire. There are more questions than I have seen in several years and certainly more questions than what there have been in an average year.

If all of the new DNR proposals are approved by state anglers and hunters, there will be some changes in the hunting and fishing regulations in the next two years. The only real difference we should see in this area will be the various bear seasons. While I am not a bear hunter, I do recommend that all bear hunters get one of these questionnaires to the Elkins Operations Center before the due date (April 5).

The statewide black bear bag limit will be two bears (bow, crossbow, gun), provided that at least one bear is taken in one of the following counties: Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mingo, Nicholas, Preston, Raleigh and Wyoming. I grew up in Kanawha County and I never dreamed there would ever be a bear gun season in this county. This year the black bear archery season will be in all 55 counties from Sept. 28 to Dec. 31.

The proposed 2019 antlerless deer gun season for this area looks like this; Pocahontas and Webster counties will have limited gun hunting on private land with a bag limit of one.

The DNR will only be giving out 300 permits for each of these two counties. To get a permit, they will have to be applied for ahead of the season.

Randolph and Tucker Counties will have unlimited antlerless firearm hunting with a bag limit of one. Several of the wildlife management areas in Randolph are closed to antlerless firearm hunting. Here is where hunters will have to consult the 2019-2020 hunting regulations when they come out this summer. Barbour, Harrison, Grant, Lewis, Pendleton and Upshur counties will have unlimited antlerless gun hunting with a bag limit of three.

Hampshire, Hardy and Preston counties will have unlimited antlerless gun hunting with a bag limit of three with a special regulation attached to these counties. In these counties and several others, deer hunters will be required to take an antlerless deer prior to harvesting a second antlerless deer. This holds true during the combined deer seasons including the 2020 Mountaineer Heritage Season.

In 2020-2021, all of the special one day youth hunts will be on a Saturday (antlerless deer, squirrel, and spring gobbler). The DNR proposes to extend all three of these youth seasons to two days by adding the following Sunday to the existing season framework. I would have no problem with this, but there are several people who are highly opposed to anyone hunting on Sunday. I have often said, “The Youth Hunts” are important for the future of sport hunting not only in this state, but nationwide as well.

The DNR would like to make the Little Kanawha Wildlife Management Area of 8,255 acres located in Wirt and Calhoun Counties into an older-age deer management area. I would like to see Kanawha and Kumbrabow State Forests added to the list of older-age deer management areas.

The DNR would like to open public lands to the proposed four-day October antlerless deer and bear seasons. This should not be a problem as long as the temperatures are not too warm. Getting a bear or dear carcass out of the woods when temperatures are in the 80s could end up being an exhausting task, with some of the meat getting spoiled due to the unseasonably warm temperatures.

Finally, the DNR seeks the opinion as to whether the season bag limit of three antlered deer should be reduced from three to two antlered bucks. This could end up being a problem for the bow hunters who take two bucks during the bow season prior to the traditional two week buck only season.

The questionnaire has to be filled out and signed by the individual or organization president. It must be in the hands of the Elkins Operations Center by April 5. Unsigned questionnaires will not be counted.

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