The 2011-2012 Hunting and Trapping Regulations are now out, and I recommend all sportsmen and women study them thoroughly to understand the changes for this year. Some of the changes I like and others I do not, particularly the early squirrel season.
The statewide squirrel season will open September 10, 2011. In the late sixties and early seventies, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has a similar early squirrel season in the southern counties. This experiment turned out to be a dismal failure. I have said in past columns that I would not object to the squirrel season coming in on the last Saturday of September, but not this early.
The statewide archery deer season will open on October 1, 2011. While I am not a bow hunter, I have had one or two bow hunters tell me this is a shade or maybe a week too early.
Another change I think needs to be fully comprehended is the way the antlerless season is going to be held in Pendleton, Pocahontas, and Randolph Counties. In 2011, all private land will be open to unlimited antlerless firearms hunting with a season bag limit of one in Pocahontas and Randolph counties. Pendleton County will have a season bag limit of two. All public land in these three counties will be closed to antlerless firearms hunting. During the muzzleloader season (December 12-17) on public land, one antlered deer may be taken on a valid base license, license combination, free license or underage hunter. One additional antlered deer may be taken on a Class RM or RMM stamp.
In 2011, there are no individual counties having limited antlerless gun hunting on private land. I think most hunters know that the four counties in the southern part of the state (Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming) are closed to all firearms deer hunting.
Grant and Tucker Counties will have a limited antlerless gun season on public land. Anyone wanting to hunt on public acreage in these two counties must apply by filling out the computer selection card and mailing it to the DNR before August 19, 2011.
Another change that needs to be fully understood by older nimrods is the senior lifetime hunting, fishing, and trapping license. This is going to be mandatory for all resident anglers, hunters, and trappers who turn 65 years of age on or after January 1, 2012. The cost of this one-time license is $25.00. Those who are exempt are the holders of Class A-L and AB-L licenses, which are lifetime licenses.
Frank Jezioro, Director of the WVDNR, says this will result in additional revenue coming in from the federal government. Currently, West Virginia receives $3.5 million to 4 million each year of "federal aid" funds. The hard fact is that when residents turn 65 they are no longer required to purchase a base hunting and fishing license and therefore are not considered to be a license buyer.
This has resulted in some reduced federal aid dollars coming to West Virginia. Let's hope this new source of revenue will be of great value to all hunters.
Sportsmen should take notice that the spring regulations meeting will be held in Elkins on March 13, 2012.
This meeting used to be held in Elkins each year; but for about a five-year period, it was moved to Buckhannon. The attendance of the Buckhannon meeting was much lower than the Elkins meeting. Frankly, I would like for the DNR to go back to having the old captive-audience or classroom-type format, instead of the open-house format. All who attended appeared to be better informed with the old format about what the DNR would be doing in future years.
The front cover of the 2011-2012 hunting regulations shows a proud young lady next to a nice buck she has apparently taken. I am glad to see more women participating in this noble sport.
The lady hunters and the youth hunting seasons are important for the future of sport hunting in West Virginia.