With hunting season almost upon us, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources encourages hunters to scout their favorite areas, according to Curtis I. Taylor, chief of the Division of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Section.
Scouting is an enjoyable way to spend time afield before hunting seasons open and provides useful information for the sportsman.
Preseason scouting is an excellent time to become familiar with the terrain and features of a new area, locate property boundaries or determine land use changes.
Activities such as highway construction, mining projects, recent flooding, housing developments and changes in land ownership can effect wildlife use and hunter access to traditional hunting areas.
Scouting is an important time to make landowner contacts and to obtain permission to hunt on private land.
Taking a youth afield during scouting trips can provide an excellent opportunity to introduce a future young hunter to the fields and forests.
Obtaining and reading a copy of the “Hunting and Trapping Regulations” brochure, getting the latest information on your intended hunting area, practice shooting and equipment checks are an important part of preseason preparation.
Reviewing the annual mast survey, conducted by DNR personnel and available to the public, should also be considered an important part of scouting.
“Again, I would like to encourage everyone to get out and spend some time in your favorite hunting area,” Taylor said. “Not only will it greatly increase a hunter’s success when the hunting season opens, it’s fun to get outside and enjoy our state’s natural beauty.”
While taking to the woods for squirrel season, turkey hunters should combine their hunt with the opportunity to watch for turkey signs.
This scouting may enable the hunter to save time during the turkey season looking for feeding areas or a local flock.
What should you look for? Squirrels and turkeys eat hard mast such as acorns and beechnuts.
This year appears to be a good year for acorn production in the area. Neither animal strays very far from its food source, so if you find an active feeding area for them, then they are likely to remain in the area. This knowledge of a feeding area may improve your chances of bagging a fall turkey.
As you move through the woods always look for turkey feathers on the ground as an indication of turkey use.
Often, leaves are scratched up in areas under mast trees.
And be sure to look for turkey tracks in soft ground or in dusty areas.
Using one type of hunting to scout for another type of hunting can make double use of your precious hours in the woods.
(Courtesy of W.Va.?Division of Natural Resources.)