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West Virginia Sportsmen Enjoy Far Cheaper License Fees


The West Virginia DNR proposes to increase the cost of hunting and fishing license for residents.  The biggest change would increase the cost of the most popular license, the Sportsman’s Class X License, from $33 to $35. 

The class X license entitles West Virginia residents to hunt small game statewide and fish statewide.  It does NOT include a trout stamp.   Holders are permitted to kill one buck with a rifle, one with a bow, and one with a muzzleloader.  Extra buck stamps and antlerless deer stamps must be purchased separately.    Hunters are also allowed spring gobbler and fall turkey hunting privileges with no additional cost under the Sportsman’s License.  Trapping is also included in the fee.   The cost also covers the West Virginia Conservation Stamp, which is required for all hunting, fishing, and trapping activities in the state.    The license also grants permission to bear hunt, but the bear damage stamp must be purchased separately in the Mountain State.  

It’s difficult to make a true "apples-to-apples" comparison, but a rough cost comparison to our neighboring states shows resident sportsmen there are paying a far greater price to hunt and fish.

Kentucky offers a Sportsman’s License to those living in the Bluegrass State.   Under Kentucky’s equivalent to the Class X, you’re allowed small game hunting, fishing (including trout), and spring and fall turkey hunting.   The cost also grants a deer permit, which allows hunters to kill two antlered deer by whatever means they choose.   The Kentucky license is not broken into separate categories of bow, muzzleloader, and gun.  The cost is $95.   Additionally the Kentucky Sportsman’s license includes a state waterfowl permit.  If you wish to trap in Kentucky, add another $20 for a trapping permit.  Therefore to get nearly the same privileges in Kentucky that West Virginia sportsmen receive on the Class X license, you would pay $115.

Neighboring Virginia offers a Sportsman’s license.  The Old Dominion’s all-inclusive permit grants a base-hunting license, which includes small game hunting, bear, deer, and turkey.  The price covers required separate fees to hunt with a bow, crossbow, and muzzleloader.  Additionally, the Virginia sportsman license grants the privilege to freshwater fishing and it includes a trout license.  Price tag $120. 

Trapping in Virginia is steep, resident trapping permits are $41 and you are required to additionally add $16 for the county or city license where you plan to set your traps.   If you add trapping, which is already included in West Virginia’s Class X, the cost grows to $177 for the same privileges in Virginia.

Ohio offers no combination license.   Therefore to match the equivalency of a West Virginia Sportsman’s license in the Buckeye State, you’ll need a fishing license for $19, which includes trout fishing and Lake Erie.   You can add another $19 for a basic hunting license.  You can add a buck license for $24 more. Hunters are allowed only one buck per year in Ohio whether it’s taken with a gun, bow, or muzzleloader.    Spring Gobbler season in Ohio costs $24 and the fall turkey season costs another $24. There is no bear hunting in Ohio.   If you want to trap in Ohio, you’ll pay $15 for a furtaker permit.  The total cost for a resident Ohio sportsman $120.

Pennsylvania not only offers no combined Sportsman’s package, you have to work through two separate agencies for fishing and hunting.   The Pennsylvania Fishing and Boating Commission governs angling in the Keystone State. There, resident sportsmen are required to pay $22.70 for a resident fishing license that, like West Virginia, does not include a trout permit and if you wish to fish Lake Erie it’s another $9.70. 

The Pennsylvania Game Commission regulates hunting license in the state.   A resident hunting license grants small game hunting as well as a big game license.  The cost is $20.  However, like Ohio, deer hunters in Pennsylvania are one and done.  Only one buck is allowed per year in Pennsylvania, regardless of whether it’s killed with a gun, bow, or muzzleloader. But if you want to hunt during the muzzleloader season the cost is $11 and if you want to bow hunt for that single buck it will cost $16 more.    The Pennsylvania license also entitles you to hunt during the spring and fall turkey season, but if you wish to kill a bear it will cost another $16.   Trappers can add another $20 for a furtaker permit in Pennsylvania.  The total cost for a license in Pennsylvania to that of West Virginia would be $115.40

Neighboring Maryland is also an unusual management animal.  There is no combined hunting and fishing license for Lord Fairfax’s land.  Therefore you’ll have to buy a freshwater fishing license at a cost of $20.50 trout not-included.  The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries require another $15.00.  West Virginia doesn’t have this kind of water, but a Class X license gives you fishing on all public water, so for comparison it should be included. 

Hunting in Maryland costs $24.50 annually.  The license gives you spring and fall turkey hunting and two bucks during deer season.  A bow-hunting permit is $6.00.  A muzzleloader permit is another $6.00.   Maryland is considered a major part of the migratory waterfowl flyway and hunting ducks, geese, or other migratory birds requires another $9.00 permit.  A Maryland Trapping permit cost $5.00.   Bear hunting is only allowed in two counties of western Maryland near the West Virginia border.   However, the bear there cause great debate.  Bear hunting is by a lottery drawing only–but just to be in the lottery you have to pay $15 with no guarantee you’ll get to hunt.   Total Cost $101.


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