It’s about that time if you’re planning on some special deer and bear permit hunting this fall.
The greatest interest will be for the spanking new limited quota bear firearms season permits. These will be available for the private lands within 19 counties concurrent with the gun buck season (Nov. 25- Dec. 7). You read that right so don’t miss this opportunity. For antlerless deer, there is a relatively small suite of public areas, counties or county portions that a special permit is needed.
For the black bears first, the 19 counties that will have some permits are: Barbour, Braxton, Clay, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Lewis, Mercer, Mineral, Monroe, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, Summers, Taylor, Tucker, Upshur and Webster. Applications are available on-line at wvdnr.gov or at a local license agent. Applications must be properly filled out and received by DNR before August 19.
What’s more, these bear hunting opportunities are over and above the usual bear seasons and types. They will likely result in yet another kill record of some sort from a continually expanding bear population. The idea is to harvest some bears when the most guns are in the field to do just that, the gun buck or “rifle” season. Hunters that draw an eligibility tag will have to purchase the bear damage stamp to participate.
The number of bear tags to be issued hasn’t been specified yet. Per Chris Ryan of WVDNR, the number of tags will be related to the mast (wild fruit and nut) conditions, which as yet have not been surveyed by the hundreds of folks that do so in August. Ryan, who studied the West Virginia black bear extensively, indicates that under poor mast conditions, bears go to the winter den early.
Conversely, under excellent mast conditions, bears stay out and about feasting and are more vulnerable to the gun at this time. Since this season is a first of its kind, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Thus, the better the mast, the fewer the permits for this initial go around.
For antlerless deer, there is a wide array of unlimited over the counter options. However, it might pay to take a peek at the 20 Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s), counties or portions thereof that are only open by special permit. For example, many of the national forest units are now special permit only as are all of Pocahontas and Webster counties. At the local level, Boone County has 400 antlerless tags available on a limited basis. Just as for bear, the deadline for these applications is August 19.
Not to confuse the issue, but sometimes you have to. There are other opportunities for even more deer hunting of a special permit nature. These include those for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) at Green Bank and for two state parks, Blennerhassett Island and Stonewall Jackson.
For the state parks, there are separate applications for each with limited dates and procedures. The applications must be post-marked by August 19. For NRAO, the applications must be received there by August 2. The application forms spell out the hunting implement and date restrictions as well as all you need to know. They are available on-line or by calling or visiting the nearest DNR facility at 324 Fourth Ave., South Charleston, 304-558-2771.
The West Virginia deer herds have been cut back a notch from the fairly recent past. However, it looks like a black bear or two will be hanging at camp for this fall’s version of gun buck season. That should be more than enough to generate some exciting history making, Mountain State hunting style!