The statewide squirrel season comes in today, while the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will have a special six-day black bear gun season starting next Saturday.
On Sept. 28, the deer archery season comes in and will run through Dec. 31. Three deer may be taken with a bow during the archery season. All deer hunters need to keep in mind that no more than three antlered deer can be taken during the calendar year during the archery and all the firearms seasons combined.
One deer of either sex may be taken on one of the following valid base licenses or resident license combinations: Class X, Class XJ, Class AHJ, Class AB-L, Class A-L, Class XS, Classes A+CS+BG, or Classes AH+CS+BG. One deer of either sex may also be taken on one of the free licenses that include military, disabled veteran, former POW, senior citizen or Class DT.
Non-resident hunters need to get a copy of the 2013-2014 Hunting and Trapping Regulations and study them so they are fully understood. I just don't have enough space to list all of the nonresident variables.
I don't plan to be in the woods to squirrel hunting on opening day. It has been sticky hot this week. It may cool down some by the weekend, but this is still to warm for me to enjoy the woods. Chances are, I will be in a nice air-conditioned building watching the televised West Virginia-George State football game.
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By now, all serious deer archery hunters should already have their equipment fully tuned-up and ready for action. They should have been practicing for the past several weeks and have themselves physically ready for this endeavor.
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Public shooting ranges are once again in the news. Right now, the news on this subject is both good and bad. I would like to start out by reporting what I consider good news.
Today, the WVDNR will officially open the newest public shooting range in the state. This one is located in the Dents Run Wildlife Management Area near Mannington in western Marion County.
Dents Run WMA is a relatively new public hunting area that takes in approximately 1,200 acres. It is primarily forested and should provide excellent hunting for deer, squirrel, waterfowl, and wild turkey. In addition to this, a 30-acre fish impoundment will provide the public all sorts of warm water fishing opportunities. For more information about this WMA, contact the WVDNR District I office at 304-825-6787.
Now, for the nitty-gritty bad news: Vandalism at some of the public shooting ranges throughout the state continues to plague the DNR and state's sportsmen. We all know the DNR had to close the public shooting range at the Pedlar WMA in Monongalia County about 18 months ago. Careless shooters really trashed that range and did not clean up after themselves.
People who enjoy target shooting from this part of the state are learning the hard way that, if they don't take care of their range, they will lose it. WVDNR Director, Frank Jezioro, believes this closure has helped curb the littering to some extent.
This past Sunday, I was reading about vandalism at other public shooting ranges. When I was talking to a spokesman at the Elkins Operation Center this week, I was informed that vandalism has been reported at several ranges to varying degrees.
The public shooting range in Kanawha State Forest has many bullet holes in the roof that covers the shooting benches. Most of the holes are covered with duck-tape patches. Vandals at the Beech Fork range in Wayne County have deliberately shot up the pavilion's corner posts.
I really don't know what it is going to take to make sportsmen and women realize this is their property that is being destroyed. The money to build these ranges comes from the $5 conservation stamp that all hunting and fishing license buyers are required to purchase each year.
This is money that could be used to purchase more acreage for public hunting, but instead it is going to be used to repair the damage caused by vandals.
DNR Director Jezioro has drawn up a proposal to the state legislature that would require shooters who use the public shooting ranges to have their hunting licenses up-to-date or be required to purchase a public shooting range user fee. Similar arrangements are in place in other states.
This additional money could be enough for the DNR to hire full-times range officers to enforce shooting range rules. I hope it does not come to this; but if it does, so be it.