Just attended one of the 12 public meetings with West Virgina DNR folks regarding proposed changes to the 2012
hunting season. I was primarily interested in the changes to deer hunting regulations. Personally, I don't have any
major problems with most of their proposed changes, however there are a few things that will be new to WV deer hunters.
Guess the biggest change I see is that we will now have to earn a second buck in some situations. That is, if you are looking for your second buck during rifle season, you must first shoot a doe. If you took a doe during archery, that would count toward this requirement.
Some folks don't shoot doe normally, so this may be an issue. I doubt that it is limited to West Virginia, but I know a great many
deer hunters who will simply never shoot a doe. They may have some problems with this new regulation. During rifle season for bucks, we can take one, but (assuming you have the necessary extra buck stamp) you will have to take a doe (also requires a special stamp) before you can legally take a second buck. As I mentioned above, if you have already taken a doe, say in archery season, that would count toward you "earn a buck" requirement. This "earn a buck" rule is new to West Virginia, but is widely used in many other places.
Another proposed change that I noticed is that during archery season, the "earn a buck" rule will also apply. Somewhat confusing here. The information that was posted last evening said that during archery season in some counties, the first deer must be a doe. However,
in the printed matter that I brought home, it says that during archery season, in order to take a second buck, you must first take a doe (as with the rifle season, explained above). This, in my opinion, is not a great idea, especially for those who will not shoot does. Not sure how this proposal will go over with the DNR commissioners, who will have the final say on these changes.
Those are two of the more significant changes that I noticed. There are other changes to various dates for the different seasons.
Nothing that I would consider major. However, the DNR says it wants us to take more doe and more deer in general. But their new proposed season dates actually reduces the number of total days we can hunt deer (archery, black powder, and rifle - bucks
and does combined), compared to last year. I haven't figured the exact number, but it is something like 3 or 4 fewer days to hunt then in
previous years.That puzzles me but they say it is designed to get more hunters into the woods at the same time to make the
deer move more, thereby, increasing the likelihood of more deer being harvested.
I also noticed that in some cases the total number of deer we will be allowed to take has decreased. For example, in Hampshire County, where I hunt, I used to be able to take 4 doe per year (that is a combined total for all of the various seasons). But, the new proposed rules will cut that limit to 3 doe per all seasons. Again, I don't see how reducing the limits and taking away hunting days will increase the overall harvest, but that's just my opinion.
In summary, if you have the opportunity to attend one of these sessions (being conducted throughout the state over the next several weeks), and if you are interested in the state's rules and regulations regarding deer hunting, I would suggest that you try to attend one. I attended the one in Martinsburg last evening.
Once these "public input" sessions are complete, the State DNR commissioners will vote on what the final hunting regulations will and they will then be published and available to the public. That usually occurs around July. The DNR representatives pointed out that the proposed regulations they were showing last evening were not firm and may or may not be accepted by the commission and that
they may make changes to the final version, It's my personal guess that the final version that we will see in July will be pretty much a duplicate of what they have already put together.
I'm putting this information on this forum for the benefit of anyone who might be interested in West Virginia's deer hunting regulations for 2012.
Comments/thoughts/discussions on this are welcome.