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Late season hunting opportunities

As we head into the second half of December, deer season is starting to wind down.

Some die hard archery hunters may still be chasing that trophy buck that eluded them during the firearm season or may just be wanting to top off their freezer for winter.

There is also some end of the year doe season’s still available in some counties.

Also, keep in mind, there is the fairly new Mountaineer Heritage deer and bear season on Jan. 14th-17. This season is open to percussion side lock or flintlock rifles, pistols and long or recurve bows.

Now let’s talk about some other late season hunting opportunities. If you want to put your deer rifles to some extended use, you can always try some late season coyote hunting. You might have tracked, heard or seen some while deer hunting. A trip back could help drop the coyote population a little if you are successful and if you are successful it will benefit deer, turkey and other game populations.

You could bring your odds up a little with a small investment in a predator call. A small price could be for a mouth call or a little extra for one of the many electronic calls that are on the market these days. Either one could increase your odds.

And of course there is still some small game seasons still open. There is a good chance for some snow on the ground this time to of the year. That can help out with some tracking when it comes to squirrel, rabbit or grouse hunting.

All of these seasons do not require a lot of effort or expense. They don’t even require you to leave your home in the pre-dawn hours, so you can sleep in a little. These are good seasons to give you the opportunity to take out a youth or guest with you.

Of course the use of dogs in these small game seasons can be a big advantage. And yes that does increase your time, effort and expenses.

But I’ve got to say, having had dogs in the past, it can be very gratifying.

My main experience has been with beagles, hunting cottontail and snowshoe, but there is nothing like some trained dogs doing what they love to do, no matter the quarry.

Another late hunting season would be the migratory bird season. Dove season comes back on Dec. 21 and runs through Jan. 24. If you can get into a good population of doves it can be a lot of fun and can use up a fair amount of ammo trying to hit the speedsters.

Then there is the last goose season that came in Dec. 6 and goes to Jan. 31. It requires a little more investment. You must purchase the federal waterfowl stamp and you must use a non-lead, non-toxic shot shell, such as bismuth or steel shot. It also helps if you have a few decoys and a good call. It takes a little practice to use one, but these days there is plenty of instructional videos on youtube for any new sport you wish to try.

Both dove and goose seasons require your shotgun to be plugged and only accept two shells in the magazine and one in the chamber for a total of three.

As always you should check DNR season dates and requirements.

And remember if you hunt after the first of January, you will need to purchase your new license, if you don’t have your lifetime.

These are all good ways to get a little more time in the woods.

Stay outdoors and stay safe.

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