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Spring gobbler harvest numbers down

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has released the preliminary harvest figures for the spring gobbler season this year. In 2019 spring turkey hunters harvested 11,210 gobblers. This is down from the 12,287 gobblers that were harvested in 2018 or nine percent. This year’s harvest is still three percent above the ten year average.

Youth hunters took 357 gobblers during the one-day youth season on April 13. This is down from the 431 that was taken in 2018 or 17 percent. The WVDNR Wildlife Districts 4 and 5, which takes in the southern and southwestern counties, reported slight increases over last year’s harvests. The remainder of the six districts reported fewer birds than last year.

The top five counties were Mason (464), Preston (455), Jackson (447), Wood (362) and Harrison (347). In counties of local interest, Randolph had a harvest of 258, which is up from 207 in 2018 or 25 percent. In the counties that adjoin Randolph, Barbour had a harvest of 202, which is down from 250 or 20 percent. Grant was at 140, which is down from 160 or 13 percent. Pendleton was at 112, which is the same as last year. Pocahontas was at 155, up from 113 or 37 percent. Tucker was at 102, up from 89 or 15 percent. Upshur was at 295, down from 335 or 12 percent. Lastly, Webster was at 100, or down from 129 or 22 percent.

The DNR did not come up with any specific reason why we had a decrease from last year. From my own observation and conversation with spring gobbler hunters, the turkeys appear to be out there; but many wonder if the hunter participation is out there. It is like what I have said in past columns. “There are not enough youth hunters replacing the senior hunters who are retiring from this noble sport.

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Last week another massive shooter murder was in the news. The shooter, who was a disgruntled employee of the Virginia Beach, entered a large office building and started shooting at random at other employees on multiple floors. The gun-control advocates in various levels of government are wasting no time to use this senseless tragedy to promote their agenda.

From this massive shooting, 12 people are dead plus the shooter who was killed by the Virginia Beach City Police. Four more were wounded, which includes a local police officer.

The Virginia Governor announced on June 4 that he will summon the state’s lawmakers back to the state capitol for a special session only to be on gun control. The governor went on to say that, “Last week’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach calls for votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers.”

According to what has been in the news on this latest massive shooting murder, the shooter used two .45 caliber semi-automatic handguns, a silencer and several extended ammunition magazines to murder 12 people. From what has been in the news, the two pistols were purchased legally in 2016 and 2018. I have not seen any news about how or when the suspect got the extended ammunition magazines or the silencer.

The Virginia governor now wants to totally ban all high-capacity magazines and silencers.

He also wants mandatory, universal background checks on all gun purchases, a limit of one handgun per month and a “red flag” law that will permit any level of law-enforcement to seize weapons of those; some people think are a threat to others and/or themselves.

To make a long story short, none of these proposals would have stopped this shooter from carrying out this massive shooting murder.

Here in West Virginia, summer will officially be here in less than two weeks. This is the time when many of the small towns throughout the state will be having their fairs and festivals with parades and large gatherings of people. This is also the time when politicians will be eager to be shaking the hands of the citizens they represent in government. Here is an opportunity for all responsible gun owners to let them know about how they feel on the gun issue.

I have often said that the number of modern firearms in West Virginia exceeds the population of the state. Many of these guns once belonged to our grandparents and great grandparents.

It is well known that 99 percent of the residents of this state who own guns are law-abiding citizens in good standing and not a threat to anyone.

Gun owners need to let the politicians know they have rights, too.

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