The big game hunting season for 2012 came to a close at one-half hour after sunset on Dec. 31, 2012.
As of Wednesday, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has not released all of the preliminary figures for last year, but this could come at any time.
The small-game seasons are still in for several animals. Cottontail rabbits, raccoons and snowshoe hare may be hunted through Feb. 28.
Raccoons may also be trapped during this time. The squirrel season will be in until Jan. 31, with a bag limit of six per day. It looks like the weather is going to be unseasonably warm today. If it's not too gloomy, I just might try my luck at getting another bushytail or two.
Ruffed grouse may be hunted through Feb. 28, with a daily bag limit of five. I have often said this area of the state is not prime ruffed grouse country. The fact that Randolph and the adjoining counties are nearly 85 percent forested land is not favorable for grouse.
I have only taken three ruffed grouse in all my years of hunting.
The first was with an inexpensive twenty-gauge shotgun.
The other two were with a .22 rimfire, my favorite squirrel rifle. They are mighty good eating when properly prepared, but one grouse is somewhat smaller than a Cornish hen.
About 90 percent of the meat is on the breast. The serious grouse hunter needs to have a well-trained bird dog if they expect to have any luck at hunting this game animal.
Hunting and trapping for all foxes (red and gray) will be in until Feb. 28 with no bag limit. Anyone who traps needs to remember that all traps must be checked and tended to daily. I only have taken three foxes in my life. The first was in the early 70s when I was groundhog hunting in Mason County.
This was when West Virginia had continuous open season on all foxes. I would favor the reinstatement of this practice.
Bobcats may be hunted and trapped through Feb. 28. The season bag limit is three. Successful hunters and trappers of bobcats need to check in their animals or pelts at an official check-in station or to a DNR representative within 30 days after the close of this season.
I have never done any trapping, but I have talked with a few people who have. Just about all of them tell me that it is interesting, but time consuming with a lot of hard work, especially during inclement weather (deep snow or hard rain).
Coyotes can be hunted year-round with no bag limit.
Serious varmint hunters should consider going after these rascals right now, especially with the good weather we are having for the month of January.
Speaking of good weather, the trout stocking trucks are now rolling. On Jan. 3-4, the DNR stocked Glady Fork, Elk River, and Gandy Creek.
On Jan. 7-10, several of the smaller lakes were stocked; most of them were in the southern part of the state. To find out where the DNR has stocked, go to www.wvdnr.gov and then go to trout stockings.
I would like to conclude this week's column by reporting the National Rifle Association (NRA) has boldly told the presidential administration they will strongly oppose any new restrictive gun laws or legislation.
The position they have taken on this subject certainly makes me proud to be a member of this great patriotic organization.