Gilmer Free Press
West Virginia’s Small Game Hunting and Trapping Seasons Open
The small game hunting seasons in West Virginia began October 10 with the opening of squirrel season. “Squirrel season is very popular with many West Virginia sportsmen,” said Curtis Taylor, Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). “It is a time when hunters can participate in one of their favorite sports and also enjoy the fall beauty of the mountain state.”
—- Squirrel - The above-average hickory and walnut crop in 2008 resulted in good over-winter squirrel survival and good reproduction in 2009. A recent mast survey conducted by DNR indicates that statewide, oak, hickory, and walnut production this summer was significantly lower than last year. Squirrels will be concentrated in areas that have mast available. The daily bag limit for squirrels is six.
—- Ruffed Grouse - The ruffed grouse season opened October 17 and closes February 28, 2010. Brood counts for ruffed grouse were higher in the mountains and southern regions of the state when compared to 2008 brood numbers. Unfortunately, they were lower in the Eastern Panhandle, central and northern regions. Grouse hunters should look for areas that provide ample cover and soft mast species such as grape, hawthorn, dogwood and greenbrier. Mast survey results indicate that these species did not produce as well this summer as in 2008. The daily bag limit for grouse is four.
—- Raccoon - Hunting season for raccoons opened October 17and will continue through February 28, 2010. Favorable mast conditions in recent years have allowed raccoon populations to increase. Food sources are not as plentiful this year as in recent seasons. However, hunters and their hounds should still have a very successful season. Raccoon hunters are reminded that the daily bag limit is four.
—- Cottontail rabbit and other small game species - Opening day of cottontail rabbit season is November 7. Rabbit populations are expected to be higher than last year. Old fields and brushy pastures are the best habitat types in which to pursue cottontails. Snowshoe hare, bobwhite quail, bobcat, red fox and gray fox hunting seasons also open November 7. Hunters should be aware of daily bag limits and season possession limits for each species.
—- Trapping seasons – November 7 also marks the opening of trapping season for fur bearing animals in West Virginia. Populations of beaver, bobcat, fox, mink and raccoon are good, and trappers should be very successful. Trappers are reminded that season closing dates vary for the different species.