There is a bit of good news to report for this time of the year. The response to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Questionnaire was up in 2013.
This past April, 89 clubs with a total of 19,458 members, one organization claiming 40,000 members, and 450 individuals submitted questionnaires. This compares to 59 clubs, with a total of 10,002 members, and 392 individuals submitting questionnaires in 2012.
Individual sportsmen, sportswomen and outdoor clubs appear to be in favor of all the DNR's recommendations for the 2013-2014 big game hunting regulations by an approximate margin of 75 to 25 percent. However, when the DNR Commission sought the opinion as to whether the September muzzleloader antlerless deer season should be reinstated for 2013, the no vote led the yes vote by a margin of 53 to 47 percent. I showed this to a couple of my hunting friends, who forget to submit their questionnaires this year. Both were quick to say, "I would have been opposed to this also."
I just don't have enough space to put down all of the individual and club recommendations, but I will list the ones I think will be the most interesting for the local readers. Like all years, some of the individual comments I feel are good, some are not so good, some are just simply impractical or unworkable, and a few are just senseless.
In the deer-general column, one club with 375 members and one individual would like for Kumbrabow State Forest to be turned into an older-aged deer management area. This idea also got three votes at the DNR Regulations Meeting held at the Elkins Operations Center. One club with 30 members and three individuals would like for the DNR to stop expanding all the deer seasons.
One person would like to have handicapped hunts in the state parks, and another would like to see a special landowner deer season in September.
In the deer-buck column, two clubs totaling 380 members think the two buck limit is satisfactory. This idea got nine votes from individuals. Two clubs totaling 135 members and 13 individuals are in favor of statewide antler restrictions.
In the deer-archery column, one club with 1,686 and 21 individuals would like anyone to be able to hunt with a crossbow. One club with 12 members and one individual think the bow season is too long.
In the deer-antlerless and muzzleloader column, several individuals would like for the DNR to close the antlerless season in select counties. Two clubs totaling 1,003 members would like to see a muzzleloader season in late September or early October.
One club with 11 members would like a January muzzleloader season.
In the bear column, four clubs totaling 4,880 members and eleven individuals want the DNR to keep the early bear season in September in the mountainous counties. One club with 40 members and two individuals would like for the DNR to increase the bear bag limit before allowing concurrent buck and black bear season. One person recommended a youth bear season.
In the turkey column, there are a few hunters who would like for the DNR to prohibit the use of rifles during the spring gobbler season. Four individuals would like to be able to hunt spring gobblers all day.
In the small-game column, one club with 3,380 members and three individuals would like for the squirrel season to be moved back to early October or late September. I am somewhat in favor of this.
In the hunting miscellaneous column, three clubs totaling 1,732 members and eight individuals would like to be able to hunt coyotes in the woods year-round. One person would like for the DNR to prohibit all hunting with semi-automatic firearms, and another would like for the blaze orange requirement to include a hat. Over the years, I have hunted with semi-automatic rimfire and centerfire rifles. I have also hunted small game with a semi-automatic shotgun. It is interesting to know that semi-automatic firearm technology has been around for well over one hundred years.
In the reptiles-amphibians column, one organization claiming 40,000 members would like for the DNR to move the Northern Red-bellied turtle from a limit of four to no take at all. One dissatisfied sportsman went as far to say for the DNR to "keep out of this stuff and concentrate on game and fish."
Another said that education is a better approach than unenforceable regulations.
The official attendance at the Elkins DNR Regulations meeting was 48. I think this was reported at 50 a few weeks ago. The official attendance was 34 in 2012. When this meeting was held in Buckhannon, the attendance was 35 in 2011, 32 in 2010 and 24 in 2009. This annual regulations meeting needs to stay in Elkins using the old format. I hope there is another increase in the attendance to the regulations meetings and questionnaire response next year.