Last Saturday was unseasonably warm. I got into the woods about 9 a.m. to try to get another squirrel with my grandfather's old shotgun. The location I was hunting is just too close to civilization to be using any kind of rifle.
Within five minutes after getting into the woods, I saw two squirrels on the ground very close to each other, but I didn't get off a shot because I would have been shooting through some underbrush. When I worked my way around this underbrush to get a better look, the bushytails were long gone.
About an hour later, I saw a squirrel come down a tree and start stirring around, but it was well out of shotgun range. When I tried to slip upon the squirrel, a crow in a nearby tree started cawing.
The squirrel scampered off to hide, and I ended up blasting the crow.
About 30 minutes later, the squirrel came out of hiding. This is what kept me from going home empty-handed. The middle 60s temperature and partly cloudy skies made me feel like I was hunting in April instead of January.
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On Jan. 14, the DNR released the preliminary figures for all the various deer seasons statewide. In 2012, hunters in the Mountain State harvested a total of 131,444 deer during the bucks only, antlerless, muzzleloader, archery, and youth deer seasons. This is down from 135,696 in 2011, or about 3 percent. The top five counties were: Preston (5,801), Mason (4,501), Jackson (4,193), Randolph (4,140) and Wood (3,799).
The harvest for the 2012 antlerless season was 45,169, or 12 percent above the harvest for 2011 which was 40,262. This includes the youth hunting season. The top five counties for this season were: Preston (2,343), Mason (2,026), Jackson (1,759), Wood (1,608), and Lewis (1,575). Randolph finished 10th at 1,325.
The statewide muzzleloader harvest for 2012 was 5,046. This is down from the 2011 harvest of 7,873, or 36 percent. It is interesting to know this is 37 percent below the five year average of 7,969. The top five counties were: Preston (237), Randolph (230), Nicholas (219), Braxton (216) and Webster (203).
The bow hunters took 24,571 deer in 2012. This is down 10 percent from 27,404 in 2011. The top five counties were: Preston (1,089), Kanawha (863), Raleigh (796), Randolph (791) and Monongalia (769).
I gave a report about the bucks only harvest on Dec. 15, 2012. The leading county was Preston at 2,108 with Randolph finishing third at 1,792.
There will most likely be some minor increases in all these figures when the DNR released the Big Game Bulletin for 2012 sometime in March.
The figures printed in this bulletin will be official for last year.
Preliminary harvest figures for the 2012 fall turkey season was 1,233. This is a four percent increase over last year's harvest of 1,186. The top five counties were: Greenbrier (139), Nicholas (98), Randolph (91), Monroe (89), and Summers (71).
This past Wednesday, the DNR released the figures for the statewide black bear harvest, In 2012, hunters took 2,683 bears which is a new record. I am going to try to give a more complete report about this season, possibly next week. I will say this harvest figures was more than a little surprising to me.
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For this week, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has stocked the Blackwater River in Tucker County, along with Laurel Fork, Spruce Knob Lake and the upper section of Shavers Fork. All three of the latter places are located in Randolph County.