Get your camouflage gear out of the closet, stock up on ammo, and set your alarm to rise before the deer wake. That’s right, it’s hunting season in West Virginia. Crisp, fresh mountain air await eager hunters in #AlmostHeaven. Lucky for you, there are many opportunities to get the big one found right here in Randolph County. Before making your way into the dew-covered mountains, make sure you know the best locations, regulations, and dates throughout the year!
- Obtain a proper license: With a proper license from WV Division of Natural Resources, West Virginia state forests are open to hunting during both small and big game seasons and make for an adventurous hunting destination.
- Know the season: West Virginia offers a diversity of hunting experiences, from bow and arrow or cross bow hunting, to rifle gun and muzzleloader hunting. Bow hunting lets the hunters get up close and personal to the game. Muzzleloader hunting for deer has been around for centuries and is a great way to embrace our heritage. All hunting opportunities include honing your hunting skills, providing a sense of satisfaction, being patient, and all can help you fill your freezer.
- Help the hungry: While some hunt for sport, others journey out to fill their freezers with a supply of quality venison. Did you know that you can donate your deer to those in need? Each deer on average brings in about 35 lbs. of venison, which, when combined with other items, could be 142 meals. Hunters who decide to participate in the program take their deer to a participating meat processor, where the processor grinds, packages and freezes the venison. The Mountaineer Food Bank and Facing Hunger Foodbank, both members of Feeding America, pick up the venison and distribute it to the needy through their statewide network of 600 charitable food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers, shelters, community centers, orphanages, missions, and churches. Click here to view the participating West Virginia Meat Processors.
- Location, location, location: The Monongahela National Forest protects much of West Virginia’s most remote woodland, and hunting and trapping here are extremely popular. The U.S. Forest Service manages ten wildlife-management areas in the forest cooperation with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources — Cheat, Rimel, Neola, Handley, Tea Creek, Beaver Dam, Otter Creek, Cranberry, Blackwater, and Little River. Abundant game season species in the forest include black bear, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, gray and fox squirrels, rabbits, snowshoe hare, woodcock, and grouse, beaver, red and gray fox, mink, bobcat, fisher, otter, and raccoon. Coyote, skunk, opossum, woodchuck, crow, and weasel are also hunted.
IMPORTANT REGULATION: Do not shoot a firearm within 400 feet of a school, church, or within 500 feet of a dwelling, or near a park or other place where persons are gathered for pleasure. Some examples would include: Campgrounds, Picnic Areas, and trails.
- Dress Accordingly: Safety is always the top priority to ensure all hunters and hikers have a positive experience. Wearing blaze orange is not for the animals, it’s for the people. Deer cannot distinguish the color, but your fellow hunters can, and for that reason, wearing blaze orange helps enhance safe hunting. You are required by law to wear 400 square inches of blaze orange in the fields and woods for others to see. During dusk or dawn where visibility is low, wearing a LED light of some sort is advisable. It is important to note, that whether you are out hunting, hiking, or going for a leisurely stroll in the woods, you must share the mountain. There is no reason NOT to wear blaze orange when hiking. Safety for your dog is just as important. Perhaps even more so in a sense they are on four legs and running. Put an orange vest or harness on your dog, or tie an orange bandana around its collar. For the hiker, and outdoors people in general, the wearing of blaze orange will keep you safe, put the hunters at ease knowing you are helping with general safety and will make for a more pleasant experience for everyone sharing the woods.