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Hunting and Fishing for Safety and Sanity

By Bob Leasure - | Apr 14, 2021

This Young fisherman found a lot of delight with his first bluegill

We all could be safer if we use a little common sense and prepare for the times ahead. If you are not a hunter and would like to get out of the house; go to the woods where it is definitely safer for us to be during the world wide pandemic. There are many things we can do out there that can be educational and also serve as therapy for us all. First, there is the benefit of fresh air. We can strengthen our hearts and lungs when climbing those wonderful things, we call the West Virginia hills. But we must use common sense while preparing for those outings. If you don’t know the area where you are planning on exploring, get a map and compass and plan your route. There are plenty of woods and waters that are open to the public and most of us know a farmer that has woods, fields, creeks or a pond to explore if we get permission first.

Always take plenty of drinking water, and enough food to keep you nourished when afield; It’s amazing how hungry you can get when your lungs are filled with fresh air. Be sure to leave a plan with a family member or friend; as we teach in Hunter Education, “Plan your Hunt -Hunt your Plan.” The plan should tell them where you’re going and when you plan to return. Stick to the plan so they’ll know where to look for you if you don’t return when expected back.

Always take a First-Aid kit too, just in case. Spring Gobbler season is just around the corner.Youth Gobbler Season starts it off on April17 and 18th; and the regular spring season for calling Gobblers starts on April 19th and runs through to May 23rd. If your etired of being couped up in the house or are bored after a bland winter during the current pandemic, now is the time to prepare for therapeutic days in the outdoors, either hunting or fishing.

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources spring trout stockings are under-way and there’s not a better time to try and catch your Sunday dinner with your rod and reel. The WVDNR just finished its annual stockings of the highly sought-after Golden trout. And during April and May the state’s trout stocking program will include a hybrid, the Tiger trout. There are many other species of fish to keep you from getting bored. Spring runs of Channel catfish, Smallmouth bass, Musky and many others are either underway or about to start. If you have small children that you’re introducing to fishing a good way to get them interested is to find a place that holds Bluegills. Lots of action from these bait robbers will mean lots of action on the young one’s fishing bobbers.

A little later you have the pre-spawn, spawning and post spawning of Largemouth bass; not to mention where you can find them, those paper-mouthed Crappies. Using common sense has been the best protection for us all during the unknowns of the current pandemic. A common-sense approach to the outdoors involves you taking the time to plan your outing for your best enjoyment and safety. The WVDNR websites can be of great help when deciding on where you will go too. The sites are wvdnr.gov and wvfish.com as well as wvhunt.gov to name a few. Of course, you can go ask locals for tips and places to hunt and fish. Most West Virginia hunters and fisherman are sportsmen and are glad to head you in the right direction for success. Just be sure to pick-up copies of the West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Regulations. Always look to the inside cover for the summary of changes to the regulations which have changes and additions to them every year.

You can just go to the parks which have limited things to do, each area a little different as to what they offer. But why not do something Wild by getting in the real outdoors. The woods and waters of West Virginia offer many Wild experiences to be enjoyed and because they are also, therapeutic.

Hunter Education classes are starting to open back up, which have been shut down due to the Health and Safety guidelines. Some of the facilities where classes are taught are closed still because of these guidelines but will resume soon, hopefully. You can keep checking the websites, wvhuntered.comand wvhunt.com and don’t forget you can hunt under the Apprentice License till hunter classes resume. One more thing; if you have success during the Spring Gobbler season, you are required to field tag and check-in your harvest. It has never been easier to check-in your kill, even this can be done by simply calling (1-844-982-4325) or 1-844-WVcheck if you have cell service in the area where you’re hunting. Of course, you can go to the website, and register your kill at wvhunt.com. The WVDNR needs this data to set future seasons and dates; this can determine if you will have a fall season in your area too. You should also complete the Spring Gobbler Hunter Survey. Remember to always set-up against a large tree or rock that breaks up your outline, this also prevents an unethical hunter from shooting you from behind. Never stalk a turkey or turkey sound. The ethical way to success in Spring Gobbler season is to call-in a Gobbler using box calls, mouth calls or other friction calls to convince the gobbler to come to you, close enough for a clean one-shot kill. Actually, you are reversing nature; the hen usually goes to the gobbler. Never wear the colors of the American flag, red, white and blue; and also, black. These are the colors of the gobbler’s head and body which can lead to a hunter’s poor judgement. Always positively identify your target and beyond, as well as what is in front of it before taking the shot. Remember it must have a visible beard to be a legal turkey in Spring Gobbler season. Also, when choosing snacks and other food and drink containers; will they make you a target for that unethical hunter, that just has to kill a turkey? Also, when moving about in the spring woods from calling position to calling position, remove your facemask and wear a Blaze Orange hat to make you more visible to others. Remember, it is illegal to hunt over bait; baiting is illegal.

To report illegal activities you can call1-304-420-4550 DistrictVI headquarters for those in Tyler, Pleasant and Ritchie or any county of that district during regular business hours. Call your county dispatcher after hours to report these violations. Or go on-line at www.wvdnr.gov/lenforce/poachers.shtmor call 1-844-1-TIP-DNR. For Wetzel county call District headquarters 1-304-825-6787 during regular business hours. The WV chapter of the NWTF offers a $200 reward for illegal kills. Remember to practice Catch-N-Release for Game fish and HAVE FUN IN THE OUTDOORS SAFELY-TAKE A KID HUNTING OR FISHING!