Approximately 20 years ago, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the State Department of Agriculture were able to work out long-term leases for two additional Wildlife Management Areas in Randolph County.
The Becky Creek WMA is located about nine miles south of Huttonsville. Access to these 1,930 acres is on county Route 43 (Becky Creek Road) from U.S. 219. Several stream crossings can block access to this area in high water. In this area, there is an abundance of bear, deer and turkey.
Trapping opportunities are available for bobcat, fox and raccoon. Camping is also permitted in a designated area. The fall turkey harvest for the past five years is one in 2006. The deer harvest according to the 2007 Big Game Bulletin for the past five years is four in 2003 and two in 2007. The bow season harvest has been two in 2003 and two in 2005. Last year, three anterless deer were taken during the special youth hunt. The terrain is steep and mountainous with mostly hardwood forest.
The Huttonsville State Farm WMA is located just south of Huttonsville on U.S. 219 or U.S. 250. This is actively managed farmland consisting of 2,720 acres of hardwood forest close to the Monongahela National Forest. Hunting opportunities are available for a variety of small game (morning dove, ruffed grouse and squirrel) to bear, deer and turkey. Waterfowl hunting is available at the small ponds and along the Tygart Valley River. Fishing for all sorts of panfish can be productive in the Tygart Valley River. The Huttonsville Correctional Center is located within this WMA boundary. Safety zones are established and are strictly enforced by security from the prison area.
According to the 2007 Big Game Bulletin, no turkeys (spring or fall) have been taken on the public hunting area in the last five years. Last year, five antlered deer were taken along with two during the bow season and two during the youth hunt. It is obvious these two public hunting areas are not even close to being overhunted.
I would like to thank West Virginia Wildlife biologist Shawn Head from the Elkins Operation Center for providing information that helped make this week's column possible.