Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Economy stinks, but most furs still in demand

Janet Hodge of the West Virginia Trappers Association dropped me an e-mail to report on the first fur sale of the 2009 calendar year. She quoted the fur harvesters’ press release on the subject:

“Raccoon remained largely unsold, with only the better quality goods being moved.  No bobcats were offered for sale; however, there remains a good demand for larger beaver,
fisher, muskrat, Eastern red fox and gray fox.”

The complete release, as well as sale amounts, can be found at the Fur Harvesters’ Web site. Adobe Acrobat is required to read the .PDF file.

A new year, a new approach

One of the great disappointments of 2008 was that I failed to keep a steady stream of information flowing through this blog space.

While in Indianapolis for a meeting, I ran into J.R. Absher, who runs the popular Outdoor Pressroom Web site. J.R. is also a veteran blogger, so I picked his brain for tips as to how to improve this space.

“Keep the information coming,” he said. “Update constantly. Otherwise your readers stop reading and go somewhere else.”

I’ve taken his words to heart. Instead of weekly (or even less frequent) updates to the site, expect something every couple of days or so. And for those of you die-hards who are still clicking in to check on things, thanks!

While in Indianapolis last weekend for the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s mid-winter Board of Directors meeting, I took an opportunity to wander the floor at the Archery Trade Association’s annual show a few blocks from my motel.


The show featured enough goodies, gadgets and gewgaws to keep even the most acquisitive gearhead satisfied for months. I’ll feature a few of the coolest new items in this Sunday’s column, so keep your eyes peeled for it.

Though disappointed by a poorer-than-expected buck season, West Virginia deer hunters fared well during the state’s antlerless, bow and muzzleloader seasons.

The antlerless-deer harvest jumped 25 percent, from 43,684 to 54,704. The bow harvest rose 12 percent, from 27,440 to 30,749. The muzzleloader harvest climbed 9 percent, from 7,423 to 8,378.

The buck kill essentially flatlined, rising just 1.5 percent from 67,505 to 68,540.

The combined kill of 162,371 bettered 2007’s aggregate by 11 percent. It went down in history as the 15th highest whitetail harvest on record.

Details can be found in the Division of Natural Resources’ news release on the subject.  

Come May, students from nine West Virginia schools will help stock local trout streams — with trout raised in the students’ classrooms.

“Trout in the Classroom,” an initiative launched by conservation group Trout Unlimited, encourages students to raise trout fry from eggs to 4-inch “fingerlings” in specially chilled 55-gallon aquariums.

Sunday’s Gazette-Mail feature tells how the program got started in West Virginia and how natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy has helped underwrite expenses.

Charleston archer bags trophy trio

Bobby Warner is no stranger to trophy animals. The lawyer from Charleston has taken many big-game trophies over the years, most of them with the bow. But he’s never started a hunting season quite as well as he started the current one. In twelve days’ time, he bagged two trophy white-tailed buck and a trophy pronghorn.

Warner’s story, and photos of his kills, can be seen in the Sunday Gazette-Mail.

Winters in Greenbrier County can be a bit chilly, but they’ve never been so cold that deer started stealing blankets. This year could be an exception. A white-tailed doe recently made off with not one, not two, but three blankets from a Beech Ridge backyard!

Beech Ridge resident Jeanette Thomas witnessed the doe’s odd behavior, which lasted about two weeks. Sunday’s Gazette-Mail outdoors column has the entire story and a photo.

Get ready to celebrate hunting and fishing

What began as an intimate gathering of hunting and fishing enthusiasts has become the nation’s second-largest celebration of the two pastimes.

To what do I refer? West Virginia’s annual National Hunting and Fishing Days celebration, of course! This year’s event, scheduled for Sept. 27-28 at Stonewall Jackson Resort Park near Weston, promises to be as much fun as ever. Read all about it in this Sunday Gazette-Mail feature. 

According to the almanac, summer turned to autumn about an hour ago. And even though hunters have been shooting doves and Canada geese since Sept. 1, the onset of fall means that hunting seasons have really, really “arrived.”

West Virginia’s first-ever September firearm season for black bears began Sept. 18 and will end Sept. 27. Duck season opens Oct. 1, and squirrel season comes in Oct. 11. Things really get hopping when the archery season for deer and bears commences Oct. 18.

Lots of opportunity, lots of fun. Be safe and enjoy.

Trophy buck areas begin ‘growth’ phase

Finding a place to hunt trophy deer on public lands has always been a problem in West Virginia — that is, until now.

Five public hunting areas have been specially designated for “older-aged deer management” — in other words, trophy bucks. The regulations went into effect last year on the Bluestone, Burnsville and Beech Fork Wildlife Management Areas and at Coopers Rock State Forest. They had already been in effect at the McClintic WMA.

DNR officials say they expect the number of trophies on the four newest areas to rise sharply this year, and to continue to increase in years to come. Sunday’s Gazette-Mail article has details.