DNR Wildlife team proposes 2019 hunting regulation changes

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The wildlife team for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources offered recommendations to the Natural Resources Commission Sunday afternoon.  Those recommendations impact the season dates and bag limits for all game in West Virginia.


The proposed changes for 2019 from the 2018 regulations were limited in scope.  Although a reduction in the buck limit from three to two has been discussed at length in the halls of the legislature and on social media in recent weeks, there was no recommendation of a change from the biologists in their proposals.

The proposed changes to the antlerless deer hunting seasons are as follows:

–Allowing for an antlerless season in northern Wayne County with 300 permits –Increasing the antlerless permits in Boone County from 300 to 400 –The northern half of Lincoln County would have an antlerless bag limit of one  –The bag limit on antlerless deer in Marion and Mason County would grown to 3 –Jefferson and Morgan County would see the implementation of the special regulation in which hunters would have to kill a doe before killing a second buck.  –The special regulation of killing a doe before a second buck would be removed in Doddridge, Ritchie, and Tyler Counties.  –Nicholas County hunters would be required to be drawn for a limited permit for antlerless hunting and there would be 400 allowed.  –The South Part of Clay County would be closed to antlerless hunting for 2019.

The rest of the proposed antlerless hunting bag limits proposed for 2019 are unchanged.
The antlerless hunting seasons in West Virginia on are October 24-27, November 25-December 7 to coincide with the buck season, December 12-15, and December 29-31.

The regulations apply to private and public lands, with the exception of the following:

–Limited antlerless hunting on a drawn permit with a bag limit of one antlerless deer on the Blackwater WMA, Bluestone WMA, Cal Price State Forest, McCausland Farm WMA, Greenbrier State Forest, Hillcrest WMA, Kumbrabow State Forest, Little Canaan WMA, Seneca State Forest, Beech Fork WMA.

–No special permit needed, but a bag limit of one antlerless deer on Amherst/Plymouth WMA, McClintic WMA, Big Ugly WMA, Canaan Valley NWR, Coopers Rock State Forest, Green Bottom WMA, Mill Creek WMA, Pleasant Creek WMA, Pruntytown WMA, Snake Hill WMA, Upper Mud River WMA, Wallback WMA.



Proposed Changes for the 2019 black bear hunting season in West Virginia:
The agency proposes adding a concurrent bear hunting season without hounds during the early antlerless deer season, October 24-27 on private land in Barbour, Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Gilmer, Harrison, Lewis, Lincoln, Monongalia, Roane, Taylor, and Upshur Counties.

The change would also be added to public land if that public land is open to antlerless deer hunting season.
The rest of the 2019 black bear seasons are recommended to remain unchanged from 2018.



The package of game proposals to the Natural Resources Commission includes extending the Youth Spring Wild Turkey Season to two days–by adding Sunday to the annual Saturday hunt.  The proposal also recommended adding Sunday to the Youth/Class Q and XS Antlerless Deer Seasons in the fall.  Additionally, the agency proposed removing the shot size restriction and making the regulations consistent with the statewide spring turkey hunting season.

The Youth Squirrel season would also extend to a two day season encompassing Saturday and Sunday.



West Virginia currently maintains five public land areas which are considered older age deer management areas.  The restrictions require a 14-inch spread on any buck killed.  Currently those areas are Coopers Rock State Forest, McClintic WMA, Burnsville WMA, Bluestone WMA and Wilson Cove WMA.  The agency recommended adding the newly formed Little Kanawha WMA in Wirt and Calhoun Counties to that list.



The DNR recommended a change to make it illegal to bait or feed wildlife on public lands year round.  Currently it’s only illegal during spring gobbler season and from September 1 through December 31.  However, last year when the Mountaineer Heritage Season was unrolled for the first time, it was legal to bait  on public land.  The recommendation is to close the loophole.



The agency recommended extending the nighttime coyote hunting season using artificial light from January 1st through the end of August.  The season currently ends on the last day of July.


The inaugural Mountaineer Heritage Hunting season in January seemed to be well received.  The season allowed for killing deer or bear, but only using truly primitive weapons of long bows or re-curve bows or side-lock percussion or flintlock muzzleloaders.  There is a proposal to allow for the use of side-lock or flintlock muzzleloading pistols for the season.  The caliber restrictions would be the same as the traditional muzzleloader season.

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