Hunters Encouraged to Perform Pre-Season Scouting and Equipment Inspections

Edited from a Press Release
Hunters Encouraged to Perform Pre-Season Scouting and Equipment Inspections

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With small- and big-game hunting seasons set to begin, West Virginia hunters should start scouting, inspecting equipment and honing their skills before heading out to their favorite hunting spots.

Scout for mast production


“Most experienced hunters spend considerable time scouting for game before they step into the woods on opening day,” said Ethan Barton, Division of Natural Resources assistant wildlife biologist. “By early September, you should be able to gauge mast conditions thoroughly in the areas you hunt.”


According to Barton, mast crop quality and quantity are good indicators of the possible productivity of hunting areas. DNR wildlife biologists and wildlife managers conduct mast surveys statewide every year, and early indicators this year point toward an above-average mast crop. Abundant mast can make hunting a challenge because animals do not have to leave dense cover as often to meet their nutritional needs.


“Scouting areas where game animals are spending time feeding is just as important during abundant mast years as during poor mast years,” Barton said. “Look for producing white oaks or other desirable food close to dense bedding cover or transitional edges, and find a way to slip into position unobtrusively. Put in your time and chances are good your effort will pay off.”



Check hunting equipment


Archery hunters should be well into practice by this time of year.

“If you have any doubts about your archery equipment, take it to an archery shop and have it checked by a qualified professional. Improper tuning of compound bows and crossbows can hamper accuracy, and frayed bow strings can be dangerous to hunters,” Barton said. “It’s also important to check arrows and broadheads, whether hunting with modern carbon arrows and expandable broadheads or traditional wooden arrows and glue-on heads.”


Tree-stand hunters should practice from various stand heights and angles. They also should check the safety harness for damage or wear before going hunting.


“Replacing a worn or damaged tree stand safety harness could save your life in the event of a slip or fall,” Barton said.


Rifle hunters should “zero” their firearms and practice shooting from various distances and positions before seasons open to ensure ethically proficient accuracy.


“When sighting in a rifle, shoot from a solid rest and be sure your rifle’s bore is clean before your shooting session,” Barton said. “It’s also important to check your ammunition for corrosion, uniformity and quality, particularly if you have old ammunition.


“If you’re trying a new load, remember that bullets of the same weight but different profiles — for example, a pointed bullet versus a round-nose bullet — often don’t shoot to the same point of aim, and impact points of similar loads from different manufacturers can differ substantially.


“Even if you’re confident your rifle is still ‘on’ after last season, take a few shots at a target to make sure,” Barton said. “You owe it to yourself and to the game animals you hunt to be as accurate as possible.”


For more information on hunting season dates and bag limits, consult the 2017-2018 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations, available at all license retailers, DNR district offices and from the DNR website,


If you have additional questions about regulations or seasons, call your local DNR district office. Personnel are available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, to answer questions and offer guidance.

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