For almost two decades, hunt clubs have leased thousands of acres from land companies and have served as good stewards of the land. Posting, gating, and fencing off areas that were once used as public dumping areas and helping to reduce the number of forest fires by eighty percent in Logan County.
The year of 1972 was the last time deer hunting with rifle was allowed. Since this time, hunting clubs have been instrumental in helping develop a deer herd that is three hundred percent larger than in 1972, with a buck to doe ratio of two does to one buck. A 130” class buck is no longer a big bucker, but has now become the typical buck size in this part of the state. World class bucks roam our mountains now because hunt clubs assist local law enforcement in patrolling properties, preventing illegal kills, developing food plots, and safe refuge areas where deer can breed and have their young on safe protected properties.
Hunting clubs have paid large sums to lease these areas and in turn, spent thousands to develop roads, ponds, trails, and food plots that not only feed deer, but also other wildlife populations. For example, the turkey population has tripled and the black bear are at all time high numbers here in Logan County. Now the land companies have decided to give permission to the State DNR to have control of these leases and to open all properties up to the public like once before. Years of hard work and financial expenses will be lost once these areas are no longer protected and patrolled. Dumping, forest fires, illegal drug (Pot) growing, poaching, and stream pollution will once again be what we will be living around and dealing with here in Logan County. Most of these developments are because of the current Elk Restoration Program. Let us take a moment, and be realistic for once. Who is going to come to Logan County, the “Garden Spot” of southern West Virginia to see an elk that was probably poached soon after it was released? This project was not given the proper thought before its implementation. It is the equivalent of Obama Care, let’s vote for it, and then we will we review it and see what all it entails. I fear that everything that has been done to get to where we are now, world class deer herds, will be destroyed in just a few months of this new development.
Let’s be honest, the state is broke. It no longer has the funds to employ more game wardens to effectively patrol all of these to be state acquired leases, which will once again be open to the public. One or two DNR officers cannot effectively patrol and monitor these three countries alone. Perhaps the state might consider asking for the public’s help. Volunteer helpers who would work for free, patrolling areas that are close to their homes and communities. Using video cameras to record and capture illegal activity and reporting all game and law violations. Just an idea, something to think about! Many law enforcement agencies have auxiliary officers, who don’t have fill legal authority. They only work to assist the officers in the field.
God Bless our true fair chase hunters and sportsmen.
Eddie J. Lawson Whitman