Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with the liaison of the Morgantown intercity deer bow hunt, Rick Bebout. According to Bebout, 67 men and women have been issued permits for this first annual hunt scheduled to run from Sept. 17 to Dec. 31. At the present time, the city is no longer accepting applications from bow hunters who would like to participate in this urban deer hunt.
As of Oct. 28, thirty-plus deer have been checked in by the bow hunters with about half going to the local food shelters. The deer have to be checked in at the city's police dispatcher or a city taxidermist's office.
Selection of the 67 participants was a very involved process. In addition to having a valid State hunting license, the bow hunter had to have a special city permit. The application to get this permit was somewhat involved and had to be completely filled out, which included the name, address, phone numbers, birth date of the hunter, along with the vehicle ID (year, make, model, color, and registration plate number) and other details.
Each applicant had to complete a bow hunter education course conducted by Bebout. After completion of the course, each bow hunter had to successfully complete and pass an archery proficiency test.
The rules of the hunt are also very restrictive for safety's sake. Naturally, all hunters have to comply with State game laws, not litter, and treat everyone they meet with courtesy and respect, and park only in designated parking areas. Each hunter was assigned a specific hunting location by the city manager, Terrence R. Moore or his designee.
The participant had to agree to hold City of Morgantown, city employees and officials, and the owners of private property harmless from any and all claims of personal injury, death, or property damage arising as a result of hunter participation. Portable or climbing tree stands are required for all hunters except those who are physically disabled and have been issued a valid Class Y hunting license by the state.
Stalking of deer on the ground is strictly forbidden, which includes walking to and from the designated hunting site. Those hunting from tree stands must use a full-body safety harness while in the stand. The hunters name and sequential numbers must be on all arrows used while hunting.
Shots of 25 yards or longer shall not be taken. If a wounded deer leaves the boundary of the designated hunting area, the hunter can not pursue the deer onto another's real estate without first obtaining permission of the owner. An antlerless deer is required to be taken first. After that, a buck can be taken. These are about half of the restrictions that apply to this hunt.
When I was talking to Bebout, he was very pleased with the excellent cooperation he was getting from others who are directly or indirectly involved with this project. This included the city manager and his staff, city council, Morgantown City Police Department, and the West Virginia University Campus Police.
Bebout also said there have not been any problems with wounded deer and at the present time did not see any need for additional restrictions. If all goes well, Bebout would like for this to be an annual event for many years to come.
Other cities having urban archery deer hunts include: Barboursville, Bridgeport, Charleston, Parkersburg, Weirton, and Wheeling.
I would like to make contact with some of the individuals who are in charge of these various hunts so I could give a more thorough report on this subject sometime in January or February.