Hunting season isn’t over yet in West Virginia! Late winter hunting seasons for small game, including fox, rabbit, hare, raccoon, grouse and bobcat, remain open until February 28. And this year, for the first time, squirrel season also has been extended an additional month, until the end of February.
Squirrel hunting is a long-standing tradition in West Virginia. For many, squirrel hunting was their introduction to the sport of hunting. With an extended season, hunters young and old have another reason to get into the woods and try their skills. It’s also a chance to bring home something for the dinner or breakfast table.
The extension of the season will give hunters a better-than-average chance of getting a squirrel, because this time of year is when squirrels usually exhaust their winter food supply and begin looking for something to eat. Wooded areas with beech or hickory trees are the best places to find squirrels, as there may still be some hard mast available.
If you take a youngster out, remember: Youth hunters must be at least 8 and younger than 18 years old. Youth hunters under the age of 15 do not need a license, but must be accompanied by a licensed adult. Youth hunters age 15-17 must comply with all licensing requirements. West Virginia’s hunting licenses are issued by the calendar year, so it’s time to buy a 2017 license.
In recent years, squirrel hunting has dropped in popularity as more big-game species, such as white-tailed deer, black bear and wild turkey became more plentiful. Biologists with the Division of Natural Resources say that has resulted in the squirrel population growing, which may increase the chance of a successful hunt. Even if you’re new to squirrel hunting, now is a perfect time to get some experience. You may not get a lot, but you’ll probably get a few.
So, pass along the tradition of squirrel hunting in 2017 — grandparents, adult children, grandchildren, any child who would like to try hunting. It’s an exciting outdoors sport that can last a lifetime if you take the time to share it.