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Writer struggles on squirrel hunt

November 16, 2013
By Kenneth Cobb , The Inter-Mountain

Last week, I decided to try my luck at a place I have not seen in at least 20 years. From talking to others, I have often been told that a certain grown-over logging road that breaks off Johns Run out Shavers Fork was a good place to squirrel hunt.

I hunted and scouted near this location back in the 70s and 80s. Just about each year, a few bucks are taken from this hollow.

I got into the woods about 9 a.m. I could hear a squirrel barking in the distance, but decided not to sneak up on it because the hill was quite steep. I stayed in this location for about another hour and did not hear or see another thing.

I thought that I should try my luck on up the hill by going back to the main trail. After walking what seemed like a mile, the less active the woods got. When I got to where this national forest road forked, I realized this walk was a mistake. I turned around to go back to where I started out.

When I got back down the hill, I did see a gray squirrel; but it was now you see it and now you don't. All total, I was in the woods on Johns Run for about six hours, and for all practical purposes these woods are dead.

I did not fire one shot with my favorite .22 squirrel rifle because I did not see anything to shoot at. I still enjoyed myself because I always like being in the woods this time of the year.

I noticed about four or five large hickory trees loaded with nuts, but there were no cuttings around them. On low ground, I saw about eight small buck rubs, along with some droppings. I did not see any bear sign for this entire hunting trip.

As far as mast is concerned, there was some hickory, very little oak and no beech. I don't think I will be going to this location when the deer gun season comes around. Next year, however, could be a completely different story for this location.

n n n

I'm in total agreement with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources when its administrators say, "West Virginia is blessed with an abundance of wildlife, including a healthy white-tailed deer population." Deer can be found in just about any location in the state. We all know in some cities the deer population has grown so large to where certain municipalities are having to conduct intraurban deer hunts. Naturally, this is only done with bows and arrows.

The WVDNR is encouraging motorists to be extra cautious while driving this time of the year. There are numerous factors that contribute to the increase in deer-vehicle collisions in the fall. This is the period of the "rut" or peak time for mating for white-tailed deer.

This past week, I heard on the home scanner that a deer was hit in the evening hours not far from Walgreens in Elkins. The next morning I heard of another deer being hit near NAPA Auto Parts on Harrison Avenue.

During the period of the "rut", deer movement and activities increase significantly, which makes them vulnerable to having a collision. On the average, 40 percent of the deer collisions in the state occur during the months of October and November.

The DNR recommends that motorists follow these simple driving tips to avoid having a collision:

n Be aware of your surroundings. If you see deer nearby, reduce your speed and honk your horn in short blasts.

n Drive with headlights on and use the high beams at all times if possible.

n Reduce speed, especially during early morning and late evening hours. This is when deer are most active.

n Do not swerve or leave the driving lane to avoid a deer collision. If you encounter a deer, apply brakes firmly and attempt to stop.

n Above everything else, drive defensively.

The expansion and technical advances in highway construction have increased the number of deer-vehicle collisions nationwide. Because of this improved technology, it has increased the likelihood of anyone who drives of having a collision with a deer at some point in time.



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