ELKINS, W.Va. — West Virginia sportsman will get a break from cabin fever this winter. The inaugural Mountaineer Heritage Hunting Season is set for next week. The season for deer and bear will run from January 10-13.

“It’s an idea that came about four or five years ago from one of our biologists,” said Gary Foster, the Assistant Chief of Game for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “We’ve been getting requests for a January muzzleloader season, so we decided to move forward with it.”

The Natural Resources Commission approved the season last summer. The additional hunting comes with a unique twist in that you may only use primitive type weapons.

“Recruve bows and long bows are legal. For muzzleloaders it would be flintlock muzzleloaders and side-lock muzzleloaders,” said Foster. “Crossbows and compound bows would not be allowed and no in-line muzzleloaders or scopes on muzzleloaders will be permitted.”

Hunters can take a deer of either sex during the four days of hunting or they can kill a black bear. Foster had his doubts about just how many bear would be taken during a season which falls in the middle of the hibernation, but he expected the deer hunt to be lucrative. Hunters can kill a buck or a doe, provided they have not already killed three bucks during 2018. The three buck limit will still apply, and if that’s the case a hunter would be allowed only an antlerless deer.

“You do have to have a 2019 base hunting license, that makes you eligible to participate,”said Foster. “It’s an independent season, so it doesn’t necessarily apply to last year’s bag limits with the exception of that three buck limit. If you killed three bucks back in the fall, you could only kill an antlerless deer during the Mountaineer Heritage season.”

Any deer or bear killed during the January season do NOT apply to the 2019 hunting bag limits.

It remains to be seen how popular the season will be, but Foster said a survey of hunters during the 2018 deer hunting season reflected 42 percent who intend to hunt during the season.

“I wouldn’t have thought it would have been that high, but we have been getting a lot of phone calls on it and there’s definitely some interest in it,” he said.

Hunters are permitted to hunt on their base license only. They do NOT need a Class N stamp, however if they intend to kill a bear they will need the bear damage stamp.

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