In 2012, fifty-nine clubs claiming a membership of 10,002, four groups that did not list their number of members, and 392 individuals submitted questionnaires. This is down considerably among the hunting clubs from what it has been in past years.
In 2011, 74 clubs totaling 36,454 members responded to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources questionnaire. In 2007, 95 clubs totaling 31,233 members responded to the DNR questionnaire. This growing disinterest has to be of some concern to the DNR and to hunters and anglers statewide as well.
The two recommendations the DNR made for the 2013 hunting and trapping season passed by large margins by both individuals and clubs. All of the 2013 fishing proposals passed by 90 percent or better margins by individuals and outdoor groups.
According to the DNR questionnaire summary, only 34 individuals were present at the Elkins meeting. However, I think several people came into the meeting room at the operations center and did not sign up. I know I asked one or two if they had signed up, and they told me they had not. Here is one of the reasons I think the DNR need to return to the old sectional meeting format. Two other individuals seem to agree with me according to the summary.
I always enjoy reading the individual comments each year. Some of these are quite good, and the DNR needs to give these some consideration. Others I am in total disagreement with, and there is always a few that do not make any sense at all.
In the deer-general column, three clubs with 339 members and 10 individuals wanted the DNR to eliminate all baiting of deer. Only one individual wanted the DNR to keep the four southern counties (Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming) open to bow hunting only. Five individuals wanted the DNR to have more older-age deer areas, which I would like to see happen with Kumbrabow State Forest.
In the deer-buck column, one club with 40 members and 33 individuals wanted antler restrictions statewide. I feel this would result in many deer being harvested, but not checked in. The buck check-in figures are very important for the game biologists to determine how to conduct the antlerless season for the following year. It could also result in more deer being shot and left behind which is not only illegal, but a waste of game.
In the deer-archery column, one club with 15 members and nine individuals wanted the DNR to implement a crossbow season. Two clubs with a total membership of 3,507 and 13 individuals wanted the September antlerless season to be archery only. One club with 76 members say the bow season is too long.
In the deer-antlerless column, there are several clubs and individuals saying that too many female deer are being harvested statewide, and just about an equal number say the antlerless harvest needs to be increased. One individual wanted the DNR to close the antlerless season in Randolph County.
In the small game/furbears column, three clubs with 603 members and eight individuals say the squirrel season opens too early. One club with 400 members and two individuals wanted the state to permit coyote hunting in the woods year round. I have discussed this in previous columns. I think this would have to be approved by the legislature. One individual wanted the DNR to prohibit squirrel hunting with dogs.
In the hunting-miscellaneous column, 15 individuals favor Sunday hunting. One individual wanted the DNR to increase the price of the National Forest Stamp to ten dollars (now $1.00) and require all users (bikers, bird watchers, campers, hikers, etc.) to purchase one. Another individual wanted the DNR to establish certain locations along the interstates for disabled hunters.
In the fishing columns, there are the usual numbers of anglers who wanted the DNR to have a trout season. About the same number favor the current year-round trout season.
I made the recommendation this year that the DNR stock more walleye. I have only caught one walleye in my life. This was in the 1960's when I was doing a lot of fishing in Kanawha County at the private-pay fishing lakes. It had to be the best tasting fish I ever brought home.
This only a few of the recommendations for 2012. I always enjoy reading the summary of the DNR questionnaire and hope you will too.