This past week, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) released its annual questionnaire for the big game hunting seasons this year. The Small Game opening and closing dates for the 2011-2012 seasons are also included.
The only major change that caught my eye was their recommendation that squirrel season open on Sept. 10, 2011. I have always been in favor of bringing the squirrel season earlier, but not this early. I will most likely oppose this recommendation. The last Saturday in September would be a better time to start this season. Remember, autumn does not officially start until Sept. 22 or 23. In many parts of the state, they are still having summer weather in September.
Randolph County will have a limited antlerless deer season this year, but it will only be open on private acreage like last year. It will also be this same way in Pocahontas County. All of Tucker County will be open to limited antlerless hunting. Barbour, Grant, Lewis and Upshur counties will be open to unlimited antlerless deer hunting this year. Sportsmen and women would do well to check the 2010 hunting regulations for bag limits when they come out this summer.
The DNR proposes prohibiting the baiting and feeding of all wildlife on public hunting land between Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 and during the spring turkey season. They also propose to lengthen the fall turkey season by one or two weeks in selected counties. The counties selected will be determined after the 2010 spring gobbler season. I have always felt that additional counties could be opened for fall turkey hunting.
Another recommendation of interest to our youthful nimrods is to increase the age limit in the youth hunting seasons from less than 15 to less than 18. The license requirements would remain in effect for ages 15-17. I am in favor of this since it would encourage more of our youth to learn about the joys of sport hunting. The DNR is also recommending a controlled black bear hunting season using dogs in Nathaniel Mountain and Short Mountain Wildlife Management Areas, located in Hampshire County.
The DNR proposes to establish a trout catch-and-release area on Shavers Fork in Randolph County. The proposed area would be about a mile long and located in the Stuart Park area. Catch-and-release would be in effect year-round.
Just about everything else will be similar to the 2009-2010 seasons. All sportsmen should try to get a copy of this questionnaire and study all of the DNR's proposals. There is also plenty of room for additional comments and recommendations. Remember, it is necessary for all individuals and organizations to completely fill out and return the questionnaires to the Elkins Operations Center by April 2. Unsigned questionnaires will be discarded.