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Squirrel Season Underway in WV


The statewide season for squirrel opens across the state this weekend.   The September 8th opening date is likely the earliest the season has ever opened in West Virginia.   Squirrel hunting was moved back a month in a rearrangement of the hunting calendar to accommodate new management plans adopted last year by the DNR.

The early date leads to far more foliage on the trees.  Hunters will have to peer much harder into the forest canopy to locate a switching, bushy tail among the leaves.   

West Virginia DNR Game Management Supervisor Gary Foster suggests hunters will find an average number of squirrels in the state this year.  He bases his assessment on two key points.

"We didn’t have a real good mast year last year, which typically will impact your reproduction and productivity for the following year," Foster said. "But to kind of offset that, we had a very mild, mild winter with very little snow and mild temperatures.  I think that will offset the poor mast conditions last year."

Typically early in the year squirrels will be found cutting heavy in the hickory and beech trees.   When those are cleaned out they’ll generally move on to the white oak acorns.  

"We haven’t got the mast surveys tabulated for this year, but from what I’m hearing at least across the northern part of the state it’s pretty good in some places and other places it’s spotty," Foster said. "We should have the results of the mast survey in a couple of weeks."

Once the most popular hunting activity in West Virginia, squirrels have lost their luster among many West Virginia sportsmen as the opportunities to hunt larger game, particularly archery hunting for deer, have increased.    Still there aren’t many West Virginia hunters who didn’t start out staring into the trees in the fall in search of a squirrel and it remains an excellent way for youngsters to get started in hunting.

"Squirrel hunting is probably the most popular activity for youngsters just starting out," Foster said. "You can get into a lot of action squirrel hunting and a lot of times that’s important."


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