The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will conduct its annual regulations open house meetings in 12 locations from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 14 and March 15. The meeting for the Elkins area will be on March 15 at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
I know that the open house meetings have a more relaxed atmosphere than the old-style captive audience meetings of years ago. However, when such meetings were held in Elkins under this old format, the attendance was higher. Sportsmen and women were better informed as to how future hunting and fishing seasons would be conducted. I have emphasized this fact in past columns, to certain DNR personnel, and to a Randolph County legislator. At times, I feel like I am wasting my breath. I have attended just about all of the regulations meetings since 1974 when they were in Elkins and considered this a good way to kick off the yearly fishing and hunting seasons.
Sportsmen who cannot make the meetings in Buckhannon this coming Tuesday should try to get a copy of the annual questionnaire at the Elkins Operations Center. I have said in past columns that this questionnaire should be given the same consideration as a voting ballot, because it gives a person an opportunity to speak out and/or make recommendations. After all, the nation's strength is the individual.
The biggest change in the 2011 hunting season will be in the various antlerless seasons. Some counties that had a bag limit of four antlerless deer in 2010 will have two antlerless deer in 2011. In counties of local interest, Doddridge, Harrison, Lewis, and Taylor will be among these counties. Monongalia County will retain its season bag limit of four antlerless deer. Preston, Ritchie, and Upshur will have a season limit of one antlerless deer.
Barbour, Braxton, Grant and Tucker counties will have limited antlerless hunting this year. These counties will have to be applied for on the computer selection card sometime this summer. Pendleton, Pocahontas, and Randolph will also be limited to antlerless deer hunting on private acreage only. All public acreage in these three counties will be closed to antlerless firearms hunting in 2011. All of Webster County will be closed to antlerless deer hunting in 2011.
There are many variables in the way the black bear gun seasons are scheduled this year. Randolph County will have an early three day gun season, with or without dogs, from Sept. 26 to Sept. 28. The traditional gun season will be Dec. 5 to Dec. 31. This is also with or without dogs.
The statewide bag limit is two bears provided that at least one of the bears comes from Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Raleigh or Wyoming counties. I would recommend that all area bear hunters study and comprehend the 2011 hunting regulations this year, particularly if they plan to go bear hunting in another county.
The spring gobbler turkey season will run April 25 to May 21 statewide.
The season limit will be two bearded turkeys. However, one must remember that no one can take more than two turkeys per calendar year.
The major change in turkey hunting will be in the fall season. This season will run Oct. 22 to Nov. 12. There will be another week of turkey hunting from Jan. 2 to Jan. 7, 2012, with shotguns only. More details about this change should be in the 2011-2012 hunting regulations when they come out this summer.
This past Dec. 24, I had a column briefly describing a hunting accident where a deer hunter was shot and wounded by another hunter in Doddridge County. This shooter had five misdemeanor charges filed against him. I concluded the column saying I would try to keep up with the outcome of this case.
At the present time, the defendant has a lawyer and they want a magistrate trial by jury. Pretrial has been set for June 15 and magistrate trial for July 27. I will try to report any new developments that come up regarding this case.