Small game hunting in West Virginia has already begun with the opening of squirrel season on Sept. 8, but several other seasons will be opening soon.
“Squirrel season is very popular with many West Virginia sportsmen. It is a time when hunters can participate in one of their favorite sports and also enjoy the fall beauty of the Mountain State,” said Curtis I. Taylor, chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
The ruffed grouse season opens on Oct. 13 and closes on Feb. 28, 2013. Grouse hunters should look for areas that provide ample cover and soft mast species such as grape, hawthorn and greenbrier. However, mast survey results indicate that statewide populations of these species are below average in 2012. The daily bag limit for grouse is four.
Hunting season for raccoons will open Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. and continue through Feb. 28, 2013. Raccoon populations should be slightly higher than previous years. Food sources are plentiful this year but are spotty. Hunters, and their hounds, should have a very successful season after locating good food sources. Raccoon hunters are reminded that the daily bag limit is four.
Opening day of cottontail rabbit season is Nov. 3. With the early spring but dry August, rabbit populations are expected to be similar to last year. Old fields and brushy pastures are the best habitat types in which to rabbit hunt. Snowshoe hare, bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasant, bobcat, red fox and gray fox hunting seasons also open Nov. 3. Hunters should be aware of daily bag and season possession limits for each species. Night hunting with lights for foxes will open Jan. 1, 2013 and continue until Feb. 28.
Nov. 3 marks the opening of trapping season for fur bearing animals in West Virginia. Populations of beaver, bobcat, fox, mink, otter and raccoon are good, and trappers should be very successful. Trappers are reminded to check season closing dates as they may vary for the different species.
For more complete information on season dates and bag limits, consult the 2012–2013 West Virginia hunting and trapping regulations available at all hunting and fishing license agents, DNR district offices and the DNR website (www.wvdnr.gov).