By KENNETH R. COBB
For The Inter-Mountain
Too many sportsmen and women do not realize how much acreage is available or open to them for hunting in this state.
Monongahela National Forest alone has 919,128 acres.
Randolph County takes in more than 200,000 acres of this national forest, Pocahontas more than 300,000 acres, Tucker more than 100,000 acres and Pendleton more than 80,000 acres.
The Monongahela National Forest office is located at 200 Sycamore St. in Elkins. At this location, there are all kinds of literature available about the various locations within the forest. Topographical maps are also available at an affordable price.
In addition, George Washington National Forest takes in more than 100,000 acres open to public hunting. This acreage is located in Hampshire, Hardy and Pendleton counties. Jefferson National Forest takes in more than 18,000 acres, all located in Monroe County, which is in the southern part of West Virginia.
There are more than 80 state wildlife management areas at various locations in West Virginia. I have to admit that some are quite small like Valley Bend Wetlands WMA in Randolph, taking in 31 acres, or Teter Creek Lake WMA in Barbour County, which takes in 137 acres. Naturally, when a public hunting tract of acreage is this small, the hunting will be limited.
There are several much larger areas, such as:
• Becky’s Creek WMA, Randolph County — 1,930 acres.
• Handley WMA, Pocahontas County — 784 acres.
• Huttonsville WMA, Randolph County — 2,720 acres.
• Kumbrabow State Forest, Randolph County —9,474 acres.
• Pleasant Creek WMA, Barbour and Taylor counties — 2,976 acres.
• Stonecoal Lake WMA, Lewis and Upshur counties — 3,000 acres
• Stonewall Jackson Lake WMA, Lewis County —18,289 acres.
All of these public hunting areas are within a 90-minute drive from Elkins.
In 1970, a conservation officer told me that in West Virginia there would be just as much acreage that goes unhunted as to what is hunted each year. It is not because it is private land that is posted.
It would be both private and public land that would be open to public hunting; and the hunting would be prime. It is because this acreage is just too far away from civilization.
Hunters need to remember that not all private land is enclosed, fenced or posted. They need to be willing to go out and look for some of it.
To find out more about all of the wildlife managements areas in West Virginia, visit www.wvdnr.gov.