Clint Ferguson

Buck season may be over, but deer season is still in. Archery and crossbow seasons are open until Dec. 31 for those that have unfilled bow tags.

There has been a change in the regulations this year and the first part of the split antlerless season will take place after buck season followed by the muzzleloader season.

In years past, muzzleloader season took place the week after buck season and then the antlerless season was the week after that. Sunday hunting is now legal in all 55 counties on both private and public lands which have added days to the deer seasons. The first part of the split antlerless season will open  Thursday (Dec. 6) and end Sunday (Dec. 9).

Muzzleloader season runs from Dec. 10-16 and also includes a Sunday for the closing day. A deer of either sex may be taken in the muzzleloader season in all counties that are open to antlerless hunting.

Be sure to check the regulations for the counties that are open, which are listed on page 19.

There will be a 2-day youth season during Christmas week for those that want to get the youngsters involved. The youth season will take place Dec. 26-27 and antlerless deer only may be taken. The bag limit of one antlerless deer per day will not count towards the hunter’s annual deer season bag limit during these 2 days.

Youth hunters must be at least 8 and less than 18 years old to participate. Hunters between the ages of 15-17 must have a license, but they don’t have to have the Class N stamp to hunt the youth season. Hunters between the ages of 8-14 must be accompanied by a license adult.

The youth season is the perfect opportunity to get the young members of society involved in hunting. Studies are showing a decline in hunters so it’s important to pass the heritage on to the next generation.

The second part of the split antlerless season will run from Dec. 28-31. This normally would be the end of deer season until next fall but that’s not the case this year.

WVDNR has created a new deer and bear season that will be open from Jan. 10-13. They’re calling it the Mountaineer Heritage Season and one deer of either sex may be taken with a percussion side lock rifle, flintlock rifle, long or recurve bow.

One black bear is also permitted with the same weapons mentioned above. The regulations on page 33 state that “Only single-shot side lock or flintlock muzzleloading rifles of .38 caliber or larger, long bows and recurve bows are legal during the Mountaineer Heritage season.

“Telescopic sights are not permitted. In-line muzzleloaders and a firearm that has been converted into a muzzleloader by use of plug, or double-barreled or swivel-barreled muzzleloader is illegal for hunting deer and bear during this season.”

The new season is open statewide, but only long and recurve bows are legal in Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties.

The regulations go on to say that it is illegal to hunt with a crossbow or compound bow during the Mountaineer Heritage Season. It is also illegal to hunt bears with the use of dogs during the Mountaineer Heritage Season.

There are still opportunities to fill the freezer until the end of the year and now even after the New Year.

Good luck to those who venture out. Be safe and enjoy your time out there in the wild and wonderful winter woods. o

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