West Virginia Mountaineer Hunting Season Kicks Off This Week

by Clayton Edwards
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Technology is almost inescapable. It seems like everything these days is “smart.” Even refrigerators have Bluetooth and run on Android at this point. Sometimes it is nice to completely unplug and get away from all the gadgets, chargers, and dongles that fill our lives. If you’re in West Virginia, taking part in mountaineer heritage hunting is a great way to do that.

Technology has slowly seeped into hunting as well. The evolution of hunting implements started when humans first started harvesting game. In recent years, both rifles and bows have become more accurate and efficient. From ammunition to optics, hunters have a wide variety of hardware to choose from. Software developers have even produced apps specifically for hunters. Mountaineer heritage hunting season is a time to step completely away from that. That season kicks off on Thursday, January 14th.

Mountaineer Heritage Hunting Takes Hunters Back to Their Roots

As we fly at light speed into the future, many people are looking to the past. For instance, bluegrass music is making a comeback. Bluegrass is the root of much of American country music. In much the same way, mountaineer heritage hunting allows West Virginia hunters to go back to their roots and experience things the way early hunters did.

The special four-day season only allows hunters to use primitive hunting implements. This means only bows and muzzleloaders. No compound bows are allowed during this season. Only longbows and recurve bows can be used. Regulations limit muzzleloaders to flintlock or percussion cap rifles. Hunters cannot use modern in-line muzzleloaders with scopes or other optics. The idea is to walk in the footsteps of early West Virginian hunters.

In this special season, the focus shifts from the harvest to the hunt. Keith Krantz, Game Management Supervisor for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources explained this shift. “I think some hunters get confused about it being about killing a deer or a bear. It’s not about the actual harvest, it’s about using a weapon your ancestors might have used and hitting the woods like that. It’s about the hunt.”

Regulations for the Special Hunting Season

While mountaineer heritage hunting season focuses on hitting the woods like ancestral hunters, there are some modern regulations. Most importantly, hunters have to wear the standard blaze orange in most regions of the state. Hunters in McDowell, Mingo, Logan, and Wyoming counties do not need to wear orange. Those are archery-only counties, so the extra precaution is not necessary.

During this short season, hunters are allowed to take either a deer or a bear. It is important to note that bears harvested during this season do not go against a hunter’s overall season limit. However, expectations for success in this season are low. In the years since the first mountaineer heritage hunting season, only one bear has been harvested. Deer harvests have been below 700 statewide every year for the special season.

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