Deer Hunting in WV: Time For A Change!


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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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!
  7. 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!
  8. 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!

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Vortex Binoculars: Optics You Can Rely On!


Working in a gun shop, I get to see a lot of different products. Guns, scopes, rangefinders and binoculars. When I first started there, I had not heard much about Vortex, but after selling a few scopes, bore-sighting rifles and looking through the scopes myself, I could tell right away that they were a quality company with equal quality products.

Vortex Vanquish 10X26 Binoculars

I decided to buy a pair of small binoculars, because my old Tasco were getting hard to focus (after 20 years). So I decided to try a pair of Vortex Vanquish, 10X26 binoculars.

I took them out squirrel hunting and I was amazed at how well I could see. I was even able to pick out a squirrel that was laying flat on a limb 30 feet high. Being able to see clearly for the first time in years through binoculars that were compact and crisp was almost as good as when I got Lasik eye surgery.

I was amazed at how much better I could see and the price was right at $129.

After a few weeks of using the Vanquish, and deer season coming up soon, I decided I would buy the Vortex Fury HD, 10X42 Rangefinder Binoculars.

Fury® HD 10X42 Rangefinding Binocular

I figured that having a rangefinder and binoculars together would save a lot of movement in the woods by having an all-in-one product. I received my binoculars two days before the West Virginia Bucks Only Rifle season opened, so I was pretty excited that I would get to use them the first morning. The Vortex Fury, was amazing! I could range out to 1600 yards (even though there is no where I hunt that is that far) and could see up close just as clear. It has many functions that allow you to range an individual object, or if you hold the button down, it allows you to range while scanning. It was well worth the $1599 price tag!

The opening morning, I began by ranging different objects so that if a deer came by one, I would know how far away it was. I ranged squirrels, turkeys, anything that moved. I was definitely like a kid in a candy store. Without seeing a deer for a few hours, finally a doe came running down the trail. So I ranged her, 28 yards! I was looking at her through the binoculars, noticing that she had her mouth open, tongue sticking out and gasping for air. She turned and ran into the brush. Not 30 seconds later, I see a buck, running down the same trail. I pulled up the binoculars, and I could see he was a five point, not one of the bucks I was after. But I ranged him too! I probably would have ranged a tank if it had come through the woods at that time, because I was having fun. The five point ended up going the same way as the doe, and I knew he was chasing her!

Once I let the small buck go, it wasn’t a minute later, I saw another buck, following the same trail as the first two deer.
As he got closer, I could see he had a nice rack, but from the side, I could not tell quite how big he was. I put the binoculars on him, and noticed what looked like a drop-tine. As he turned to follow the trail of the smaller buck and the doe, I noticed his rack was wider that his ears. So I decided to take him. Turned out to be a nice eight point with a 16 inch spread. He wasn’t a huge buck, but he was mature and with the help of my Vortex Fury HD Binoculars, I was able to see clearly enough to see he was a nice buck.

Not all hunts go this well, but it is worth noting that no product can make you 100% successful, but it does not hurt to have good equipment when you are trying to outsmart that nice buck!

For more information on Vortex Optics, go to www.vortexoptics.com and see their whole line of scopes, binoculars, spotting scopes and accessories, you will be glad you did.

 

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WV Bananna: Paw Paws, The Unknown Fruit (And Deer Food)


So everyone has heard the old children’s song about the “Paw Paw Patch,” that goes like this:

Where, oh where, oh where is Susie?
Where, oh where, oh where is Susie?
Where, oh where, of where is Susie?
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

Chorus:
Picking up paw-paws; put ’em in a basket.
Picking up paw-paws; put ’em in a basket.
Picking up paw-paws;put ’em in a basket.
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

But did you know anything about the Paw Paws they are singing about?

Paw Paws (also known as the WV Banana as well as other states claiming it to be their banana) is a fruit that grows in eastern North America forests and unless you know what you are looking for, you might just over look them.

In West Virginia, there are many festivals and celebrations that celebrate the fruit. The Paw Paw is a very tasty fruit and can be eaten raw (after it ripens and turns brown) and is also an ingredient in Paw Paw pie.

One of the things with being an outdoorsman, I am always looking at what wildlife eats. One day I was hunting squirrels in October and as I was sitting there, I kept hearing a loud plop in the hollow below me. I ignored it at first, but then I heard more plops and deer began to show up. After a while the curiosity got the best of me and I walked toward the sounds only to find Paw Paws hitting the ground and just like a deer feeder throwing corn out, the deer came running, eating them as fast as they were falling.

When you are looking to see if you have Paw Paws, here are a few photos to help you recognize them.


 

 

Here is what the leaves look like.

 

 

 

 

 

The trees are slender but tall and the weight of the Paw Paws make the trees lean.

 

 

 

 

Here are how the Paw Paws look in the trees.

The key to hunting around Paw Paws is to make sure you are in the woods when they start dropping for two reasons:  1. You want to be there when the deer are in there feeding and 2. you want to be able to pick some for yourself before the deer and wildlife eat them all.

 

Many people have never seen Paw Paws before, but in WV, they are all over the place and easy to find, if you know what you are looking for.

Watch this video that I made, showing a good Paw Paw patch. Enjoy everything the outdoors has to offer, live off the land and live healthy!

 

 

 

 

 

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