The traditional buck-gun deer season is about two weeks away. By now, all deer hunting enthusiasts should have their hardware fully sighted in and have themselves ready for some serious hunting and shooting.
This week, I have talked to a few people in Charleston about hunting accidents or incidents for this year. As of Thursday of this week, there have been 13 hunting incidents with only one fatality. This was in Berkeley County on Sept. 30 when a 67-year-old man fell out of a tree stand while bow hunting.
Statewide, there have been four tree stand falls. The first happened on Feb, 22 in Lincoln County when a 62-year-old man fell out of a stand. The second was a 58-year-old man on April 24 in Harrison County. The third incident was the fatality in Berkeley County when a 67-year-old man fell out of a tree stand while bow hunting and the fourth was a 19-year-old man in Kanawha County who fell while bow hunting on Nov. 4.
There have been three injuries due to hunters slipping and falling. The first happened on April 23 in Lewis County when a 30-year-old man fell while spring gobbler hunting. The second happened on Aug. 24 when a 64-year-old man fell in Lincoln County, and the third was in Randolph County when a 19-year-old man slipped and fell while deer bow hunting on Sept. 28, which was the opening day of the deer-bow season.
There have been four incidents where a victim was mistaken for game. The first was in Jefferson County on March 2 when a 39-year-old man shot another 39-year-old man with a shotgun while quail hunting. The second took place in Braxton County on Sept. 28, when a 57-year-old man shot a 77-year-old man with a shotgun while squirrel hunting. The third was in Mercer County on Oct. 13, when a 77-year-old man shot an 8-year-old child with a shotgun while squirrel hunting.
The fourth happened on Oct. 27 when an unknown deer hunter shot a 34-year-old individual with an arrow while bow hunting. I don't have any details about the shooter in this case. There is the possibility of the shooter fleeing from the scene.
There was an incident in Ritchie County where a shotgun shell went off at a shooting range on June 13 and injured a 51-year-old man.
In Tucker County, there was a 39-year-old hunter who was injured when his .22 Hornet rifle accidentally discharged. The bullet hit the hunter in the foot. This had to be painful.
In three of the incidents where a victim was mistaken for game, none of the shooters had taken the hunter safety education class. I have often said, the hunter education class, along with the blaze-orange regulation during all the deer firearms seasons, has made a big difference in the sport hunting accidents in West Virginia.
When I started deer hunting in 1963, better than half of the hunting accidents involved youth hunters or hunters less than 21 years of age. This year, the shooters in these incidents have been middle aged or senor citizens.
It certainly would be great if we could get through all of the deer firearms seasons without a hunter-shooting incident, but this is like asking someone for a million dollars.
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For the past six months, I have had a few people to tell me they have been seeing two or three black squirrels on Yokum Street in Elkins close to the mental health center. The only black squirrels I have ever seen have been in the wildlife exhibits. Last Wednesday, I finally saw one of the black squirrels at the intersection of West Main Street and Robert E. Lee Avenue in Elkins in a large oak tree. It was about the size of a gray squirrel. The ones I observed in the wildlife exhibits were about the size of a fox squirrel.
When I was living with my parents in Kanawha County, a few people told me there were a few pockets of black squirrels in Mason and Putnam counties. Chances are, there are a few more throughout the state.