The deer population in West Virginia is going to take a huge hit, at as a matter of fact, it already has. Remembering years past, where you could go out hunting and see a herd of 20 deer pass you at a time and seeing 50 to 100 deer a day is gone. Now in the late 70’s and through the 80’s when I was living and hunting in WV, there were a lot of deer, but this year (even though I was successful) I saw only three deer the first day, and others that I know didn’t see any. After talking with many hunters and landowners, there seems to be many reasons.
- Too many coyotes! People need to start taking out those fawn-killing predators! There are just too many coyotes and they are multiplying every year!
- Too many people baiting deer! Folks, that is not hunting! The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (WVDNR) made a huge mistake when they allowed people (I am not going to call them hunters) to hunt over bait. People set out their feeders and the deer come running when they hear it turn on! I remember a time when you got out in the woods and actually outwit the deer. I don’t think it is a bad thing to put out nutrients to help keep the herds healthy, salt blocks, etc… But to sit over bait is just not hunting it is KILLING!
- Too many people are taking anything with antlers! You take the young bucks out, they don’t have time to grow into trophies and keep the good genes going.
- Too many tags allowed! Bow season, you take one deer, buck or doe! Firearm season, you take one Buck! Doe season, you take one Doe! If during any of those season you come across a coyote, you take the coyote out first!
- West Virginia out-of-state license is too inexpensive! Raise the price of the non-resident license. Too many people, especially from Ohio have said “I am going to WV to get meat and hunt in Ohio for a trophy.” Time for those folks to pay a little more!
- Just as it was back a few years ago, outlaw hunting off of four-wheelers, side-by-sides and any other machine that makes people lazy! It is ok for those who are disabled to use them, but in my mind, those people who ride back and forth on ridges and right of ways are like mosquitoes to me. They do nothing but scare the deer and ruin everyone else’s hunts!
- Turn in road-hunters! There is no place in hunting if you are too lazy to get out of your truck and pack into the woods and HUNT! I can promise you, that if I see someone road hunting, shooting from the road or at night, I will turn you in! No questions asked, I don’t care who you are, you will be turned in!
- Bring back the physical check-in process! There is no way that the WVDNR can get an accurate count of how many deer are taken by putting the check-in process online!
Now there are many other ways that we can help keep our deer herd healthy and growing, but to me and many others like me feel that this is a good starting point. Time for dads, brothers, uncles, moms and anyone else to teach our youngsters how to actually hunt and not just put out the menu and watch the deer come in. Nothing is more satisfying that working hard to fill your tag, knowing that you put forth the effort to outsmart that big buck! Get out in the woods, walk around set up cameras (yes, that is a great way to get to know your deer and other wildlife), and learn the habits of your deer! It is time for all of us to become Hunters and not just shooting deer under feeders!
With that said, I am going to start petitioning the WVDNR to start changing the regulations and start caring about our deer! It is either that, or we will no longer be able to enjoy what every West Virginian has enjoyed for the past 40 years!