This past August, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reported the number of hunters grew 9 percent between 2006 to 2011, and the number of anglers jumped 11 percent for the same period. People are beginning to rediscover the great outdoors.
What is really good news is the fact that people who hunt, fish and observe wildlife, injected $145 billion into the nation's economy in 2011.
Other interesting findings include:
All of these increases are encouraging, especially for hunters. For several years, there had been a big downward trend in the participation of this noble sport. I remember reading a national news magazine in the 80s that read, "Single mothers just don't want their children to be a part of this blood sport."
I have said in several past columns that our youth hunts are important for the future of sport hunting in West Virginia. A few residents, however, want the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to include the ladies in the youth hunts. I think that it would be best to keep the youth hunts for what they were originally intended to be, youth hunts. All youth hunters under 15 years of age should be accompanied by a licensed adult as prescribed by law.
This year, the deer gun season has been somewhat slow for me. I was not able to go out on the opening morning because of a funeral visitation. I did go out in the afternoon on Cherry Fork. I could not believe the number of trees down due to the snowstorm or Hurricane Sandy. It was about 4 p.m. when I saw a turkey. About fifteen minutes later, I saw a coyote, but I think he saw me first. When I started to bring my rifle up, he took off like a shot. At the present time, I have not fired a shot during this year's gun season.
I have not talked to anyone at the Elkins Operations Center or at any of the local check-in stations. A few people have told me they have seen some good-looking bucks on vehicles and in the back of pick-up trucks. A reporter for the The InterMountain told me that 11 deer have been entered in the big buck contest the newspaper is having.
I still have a Class N stamp (antlerless deer). This season will come back in on Dec. 13 and run through Dec. 15, and will reopen on Dec. 28 and run through Dec. 31.
I have always said the females are better eating anyway, because you just can't eat those antlers.