Rap­pa­han­nock fall hunt­ing pre­view: Deer, bear, wild tur­key, and ‘hot pink’

‘Sun­day hunt­ing for crows has been changed to Mon­day’

Rappahannock News - - NEWS • WASHINGTON - By John Mccaslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

It’s al­most time to dust off the blaze or­ange — and new to Vir­ginia this au­tumn “hot pink” — hunt­ing gear.

That’s right, lady hunters — and men if they choose — have the op­tion of sport­ing flu­o­res­cent pink in­stead of tra­di­tional Day-Glo or­ange this 2017-18 hunt­ing sea­son, all thanks to a bill that cleared Vir­ginia’s Gen­eral Assem­bly this year.

Fall fash­ions aside, state game of­fi­cials tell us this fall’s deer hunt­ing out­look in Vir­ginia, where an es­ti­mated 900,000 White­tails are presently for­ag­ing through forests and flowerbeds, is “av­er­age.” Which isn’t such a bad thing.

As W. Matt Knox, of Vir­ginia’s De­part­ment of Game and In­land Fish­eries, ex­plains it: Vir­ginia’s deer hunters have one of the high­est suc­cess rates in the United States — bet­ter than 60 per­cent.

Still, the 2016-17 deer harvest statewide was be­low nor­mal. And here in Rap­pa­han­nock County it was the low­est in al­most 20 years — and the sec­ond low­est in more than 30 years. There was a to­tal harvest of 1,584 deer, the small­est num­ber since 1998, when 1,476 deer were bagged. Be­fore that, the fewest deer har­vested in Rap­pa­han­nock County was 1,347 in 1986.

By com­par­i­son, 1,823 deer were har­vested in Rap­pa­han­nock dur­ing the 2015-16 hunt­ing sea­son; 1,636 in 2014-15; and 2,024 in 2013-14.

Mean­while, one of the few new state hunt­ing reg­u­la­tions in 2017-18 deals specif­i­cally with this ju­ris­dic­tion: “It shall be un­law­ful to take a sec­ond antlered deer on pri­vate lands in Rap­pa­han­nock County prior to tak­ing at least one antler­less deer on pri­vate lands . . . and it shall be un­law­ful to take a third antlered deer . . . prior to tak­ing at least two antler­less deer on pri­vate lands in Rap­pa­han­nock County.”

Statewide, the bag limit for deer is two a day, and six dur­ing a li­cense year. Of the six-deer limit, no more than three may be antlered deer and at least three must be antler­less deer.

The deer hunt­ing sea­son with firearms this year in Rap­pa­han­nock County be­gins on Satur­day, Nov. 18, and lasts un­til Satur­day, Jan. 6. Early archery deer sea­son in Rap­pa­han­nock is Satur­day, Oct. 7 through Fri­day, Nov. 17.

The Youth and Ap­pren­tice Deer Hunt­ing Week­end this year is Satur­day, Sept. 30 and Sun­day, Oct. 1. Youth ages 15 and un­der can hunt deer of ei­ther sex when ac­com­pa­nied and su­per­vised by an adult over 18 with a valid Vir­ginia hunt­ing li­cense (adults are not al­lowed to carry or dis­charge a weapon).

Rap­pa­han­nock County will have a three-day early bear sea­son with firearms from Mon­day, Oct. 2 through Wed­nes­day the 4th. Ditto in neigh­bor­ing Madi­son, Page, Culpeper, Warren and Fauquier coun­ties.

The reg­u­lar firearms bear sea­son in Rap­pa­han­nock is Mon­day, Nov. 27 through Satur­day, Jan. 6. Archery bear sea­son is Satur­day, Oct. 7 through Fri­day, Nov. 17.

A to­tal of 21 bears were taken by hunters in Rap­pa­han­nock County dur­ing the 2016-17 sea­son, al­though in 2016, prior to the open­ing of bear hunt­ing sea­son, an ad­di­tional 18 bears were shot by Rap­pa­han­nock County farm­ers with so-called “kill per­mits.”

In 2013, 57 bears were shot and killed by Rap­pa­han­nock farm­ers be­fore the hunt­ing sea­son — 28 of them on one prop­erty alone — a fig­ure that “stood out” as “not near ideal” to Jaime Sa­jecki, bear project leader with the Vir­ginia De­part­ment of Game, who said too of­ten “no value is placed on th­ese an­i­mals.”

Game of­fi­cials warn hunters this fall that it is un­law­ful to use dogs when hunt­ing bear, al­though dogs may be used to track wounded or dead bear. In ad­di­tion, no hunter “shall kill or crip­ple and know­ingly al­low any game an­i­mal to be wasted with­out mak­ing a rea­son­able ef­fort to re­trieve the an­i­mal and re­tain it in their pos­ses­sion.”

Hunters must pur­chase a bear li­cense in ad­di­tion to all other ap­pli­ca­ble li­censes, per­mits or stamps.

Bear bag lim­its: One per li­cense year, at least 100 pound live weight or 75 pounds dressed weight. Fe­males with cubs may not be har­vested. All bears must be checked at an of­fi­cial bear check sta­tion.

Youth or ap­pren­tice bear hunt­ing will take place on the week­end of Oct. 14 and 15. The reg­u­la­tions for young bear hunters are the same as for deer hunt­ing.

Turn­ing to tur­keys, no more than two can be taken in the fall sea­son — only one per day, ei­ther sex. Wild tur­keys killed in the fall also must be checked at a game check sta­tion.

The fall firearms tur­key sea­son is Satur­day, Oct. 28 through Fri­day, Nov. 10, as well as Nov. 23, Dec. 4 through 30, and Jan. 13 through 27. (Madi­son and Page coun­ties have a much shorter firearms tur­key sea­son, Oct. 28 through Nov. 10, and Nov. 23).

Archery tur­key sea­son is Satur­day, Oct. 7 through Fri­day, Nov. 10 in Rap­pa­han­nock, while the Youth and Ap­pren­tice Fall Tur­key Hunt­ing Week­end is Oct. 21 and 22.

Fi­nally, new this fall in Vir­ginia, rac­coons have been added to the list of species that can be hunted with elec­tronic calls. And then this from state game of­fi­cials: “Sun­day hunt­ing for crows has been changed to Mon­day. The days are now Mon­days, Wed­nes­days, Fri­days, and Satur­days.”

BY DSG OUT­ER­WEAR

Lady hunters — and men if they choose — have the op­tion of sport­ing flu­o­res­cent pink in­stead of tra­di­tional Day-Glo or­ange this hunt­ing sea­son.

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