Muzzleloading enthusiasts in West Virginia have long clamored for an early black powder hunting season in West Virginia. The Natural Resources Commission may give them at least a portion of what they want.
The DNR’s Wildlife Section has proposed a one-week muzzleloading season for antlerless deer during the month of September. The week would follow a proposed special archery season for does also in September.
"Those seasons as they are proposed would be management tools for us," said Game Management Supervisor Paul Johansen of the DNR. "They’ll allow us to harvest additional females from the population in those counties that basically are over their population objectives."
The early muzzleloader and archery seasons are the most radical proposals from the wildlife section for this year. They’ll be among the recommendations proposed in questionnaire form to sportsmen at the March sectional meetings.
The DNR isn’t ready to name exactly which counties would qualify for the early seasons. Johansen estimates it would probably be 27 to 37 West Virginia counties would be open to those seasons.
For many years the West Virginia Muzzleloaders Association and other black powder enthusiasts have pressed the DNR for an earlier opening than the late December seasons. The DNR has resisted the idea, but Johansen says this season is a departure from the normal idea. He says allowing muzzleloading–and early bow hunting–in those counties where their numbers are highest might be another step toward reducing the population.
"If we properly target the counties and adjust it to more appropriate levels, this will work very well for us. I have no biological concerns at all," said Johansen following the recent meeting of the Natural Resources Commission in Flatwoods.
Neighboring Virginia has a muzzleloader season that runs the week before the opening of the regular firearms season. Johansen says the DNR has no interest in such a season here. He says the Virginia plan would not be well received in West Virginia because of biological implications and negative impact on the success of traditional gun hunters.
The annual Sportsman’s Sectional Meetings are March 16 and 17.