For The Register-Herald
Attention, all hunters and trappers. I have enrolled you into summer school and the course materials are hot off the presses. Stop by your local sporting goods shop, a West Virginia hunting and fishing license agent counter, our DNR district office in Beckley or simply go online to retrieve the course materials. There may or may not be a test at the end of the course — but I strongly suggest you come into this fall’s hunting season prepared.
Every year around this time, the WVDNR publishes the highly anticipated Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary booklet. This year’s version is a great summer read for the back porch or the air-conditioned den and features several major changes to the hunting regulations. They also serve as great material for conversation starters at the local barber shop, backyard get-togethers or reunions where hunters may gather.
Without further ado, below is a summary of the regulation changes for the 2012-2013 seasons as listed at wvdnr.gov:
1. The statewide archery deer season will open Sept. 29 and runs through Dec. 31.
2. The September Special Antlerless Archery and Muzzleloader Seasons have been eliminated for 2012.
3. All private land in counties having a firearms antlerless deer season (Class N or NN) will be open Oct. 25-27, Nov. 19 to Dec. 1, Dec. 13-15 and Dec. 28-31. All public lands having an antlerless deer season will be open Nov. 19 to Dec. 1, Dec. 13-15 and Dec. 28-31. Bag limits vary among counties but will be either one or three antlerless deer.
4. Fall wild turkey hunting season has been increased in 2012 with 15 counties open Oct. 13-20; seven counties open Oct. 13-20 and Oct. 29 to Nov. 3; and 14 counties open Oct. 13-20 and Oct. 29-Nov. 17.
5. The statewide archery bear season has been expanded in 2012 and will be a split season open Sept. 29-Nov. 17 and re-open on Dec. 3 and run through Dec. 31.
6. Black bear gun hunting seasons in 2012 include nine counties open Sept. 24-26; 12 counties open Sept. 24-29; eight counties open Nov. 19 to Dec. 1 during the Buck Season, and all 55 counties open Dec. 3-31. The daily bag limit is one bear per day with a season bag limit of two bears, provided at least one bear comes from Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mingo, Raleigh or Wyoming counties.
7. It is now legal to hunt between one half hour after sunset and one half hour before sunrise with a .22 caliber centerfire firearm or smaller or a shotgun using No. 2 shot or smaller.
8. Coyotes and fox can be hunted with any color artificial light in open seasons.
9. Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, resident Apprentice Hunting and Trapping Licenses (Class AH and AHJ) and nonresident Apprentice Hunting and Trapping Licenses (Class AAH and AAHJ) will be available to those individuals who have never had a valid base
hunting license. Prior completion of a hunter training course is not required to purchase an Apprentice Hunting and Trapping License, but holders of one of these licenses must be accompanied and directly supervised by a licensed adult.
10. The Lifetime Senior Hunting/Trapping/Fishing License (Class XS) is required for resident hunters, trappers, and anglers who have reached 65 years of age on or after Jan. 1, 2012. The Class XS license has the same privileges as the Class X license, except that holders of a Class XS license can participate in the Special Split Youth/Q/QQ/XS antlerless deer seasons, and those deer do not count toward the hunter’s annual antlerless deer bag limit.
It is also worth noting that for those folks who travel north for deer hunting, 10 counties or portions thereof will have special antlerless deer regulations in place this fall. Within these 10 counties (Brooke, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Marshall, eastern Mineral, Monongalia, Ohio, Tyler and Wood), both archery and firearm deer hunters must kill an antlerless deer before they’re allowed to kill a second antlered deer.
Within the 42-page booklet is a wealth of information designed to shine the spotlight on the wealth of opportunities available afield this fall. Go forth and make preparations for nature’s great bounty and please remember to share your knowledge and experience with others.
And of course, if you happen to have an overabundance of fox squirrels in your hickory patch come late September, please remember to send word to your local outdoor writer.