Several changes made in hunting seasons

The 2018-2019 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary can now be brought up online, and the hunting regulations booklet should be available in the Elkins Area in about 10 days.

This year, there are more changes in the hunting regulations than what I normally see in any one year.

Sunday hunting will be legal on public lands throughout the state. This means it will be lawful to hunt on Sunday in West Virginia on federal lands where hunting is permitted, in a state forest and state land owned or leased by the state for wildlife management purposes. Here is something I have wanted to see implemented for more than 50 years. Sunday hunting is also legal on private land provided that the individual has written permission from the land owner to be able to hunt on the owner’s acreage on Sunday.

The season dates and counties open for antlerless deer, fall wild turkey and black bear have changed. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources recommends that hunters check out the appropriate details for each of these various seasons.

The black bear archery and crossbow seasons will no longer be split seasons and will run from Sept. 29-Dec. 31, statewide. The muzzleloader deer season dates have changed. This year, the muzzleloader deer season will run from Dec. 10-16.

The Mountaineer Heritage season for deer and bear will open Jan. 10-13, 2019. The daily bag limit for raccoon hunting will be four during a 24-hour period from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. the following day.

Non-resident full-time students of any West Virginia college or university are eligible to purchase a lifetime license. Some residents don’t think this is a good idea. Only time will tell if it is.

Berkeley and Mineral counties have been added to the Chronic Wasting Disease carcass transport regulations. These two new counties will have designated CWD sampling stations. Deer hunters who choose to hunt in these Eastern panhandle counties would do well to cooperate with the DNR game biologists with this situation. I just wish the DNR could get this problem fully under control

The last major change for the 2018 pertains to the trapping regulations. This year, traps used for taking game or furbearing animals may now be identified with a durable plate or tag with either the owners name and address or his or her DNR identification number used for checking game. I don’t see where this could be any problem for anyone who lawfully traps in West Virginia.

These are only the major changes for this year. I highly recommend that all hunters study the new changes to where they are fully understood.

The youth squirrel season will be Sept. 1. This is less than two months away. Now is the time for adults to think about being or getting in shape if they expect to be able to keep up with their children and/or grandchildren.

For all practical purposes, the fall hunting season for this area will start Sept. 8, with the opening of the statewide squirrel season. The popularity of this season has sharply diminished in the last two decades. At the last DNR public regulations meeting, I had one of the DNR officer to tell me that he did not check out 10 individuals who were seriously squirrel hunting last year.

The mast availability for wildlife should be favorable this year. From what some sportsmen and women are telling me, there was very little frost last spring, and we have had an ample amount of rain this summer. Usually when conditions are like this, just about all game animals end up being fat and healthy.