Deer hunts set in 10 state parks

Some West Virginia State Parks have hosted limited deer hunts in the past, but they were not one bit like the ones that are on the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ agenda for this year. This fall, 21 three-day managed hunts are in the planning for 10 state parks.

Sam England, chief of the State Parks Section, said, “All of these parks have an over-abundance of deer.” When conditions are like this, it causes problems. White-tailed deer are browsers. They will graze on native plants and often leave the non-native plants alone. Here is when the non-native plants expand to where the native plants are not able to recover.

This fall, the deer hunts will take place at Beech Fork, Cacapon, Canaan Valley, Chief Logan, Lost River, North Bend, Pipestem, Stonewall Jackson, Twin Falls and Watoga State Parks. Each of these parks will host at least two three-day hunts. North Bend State Park in Ritchie County appears to have a higher deer density than the other parks that have been chosen and will host a trio of three-day hunts.

All of these hunts will take place between Oct. 29 and Nov. 17. This is during the peak of the deer mating season when they are on the move and less wary than usual. This way hunters should have plenty of incentive to participate.

England went on to say, “We want to increase the efficiency of these hunts, so we are trying to hold them at a time when hunters will be most interested in participating. The other thing we’re planning to do is charge nominal applications fees for the permits so hunters will be more committed to the hunts.”

In the past, park officials did not charge application fees. The permits were free. England said this was a serious drawback. It was not unusual to have less than one-half to two-thirds of the hunters show up. When this happened, the state park hunts were inefficient.

In most of the state parks, the first hunt will be bow-crossbow-only. The second will be a muzzleloader season held the following weekend. At North Bend, the first two weekends will be archery/crossbow only. The third will be for muzzleloaders.

All of the hunts will be on state parks that have lodges or cabins. The DNR would like for the hunters to stay in the parks and take advantage of these facilities.

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I went to the WVDNR regulations meeting held March 13 at the Elkins Operation Center. The weather for that evening was quite discouraging. It was almost like a blizzard outdoors when the meeting started at 6 p.m. At first, it looked like the attendance was going to be less than last year’s. When I left the meeting at about 7:15 p.m., it looked like the attendance could be picking up a bit.

I was quick to emphasize to one of the high-ranking administrators at the Operations Center that if you want more sportsmen to attend this annual meeting, you are going to have to return to the old class-room type format. This was also one of my recommendations under the general/small game column.

The DNR has a questionnaire to fill out where sportsmen and women can express their opinions on the changes that are being made for this year’s big game seasons and next year’s small game and fishing seasons.

Most of the recommended changes will not have much effect for the anglers and hunters in this area, except for maybe the late black bear and dear seasons that are scheduled for January 2019.

All hunters should try to obtain one of these questionnaires, fill it out and get it to the WVDNR prior to April 3.

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