DNR Stresses Scouting

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With hunting season upon us, the Division of Natural Resources encourages hunters to scout their favorite areas, according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Division of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Section. Scouting is an enjoyable way to spend time afield before hunting season opens and provides useful information for the sportsman.

"Wildlife concentrations and movements are dependent on food sources," Taylor said. "Mast conditions this fall are very spotty because of the late spring frosts. Mast production may be abundant in one area and may be scarce a short distance away. Scouting trips to your favorite hunting area will provide information on the location of food sources and could greatly increase the hunter's chance of success when hunting season opens."

Preseason scouting is an excellent time to become familiar with the terrain and features of a new area, locate property boundaries or to determine land use changes. Activities such as highway construction, mining projects, recent flooding, housing developments or changes in land ownership can affect wildlife use and hunter access to traditional hunting areas. Scouting is also an important time to make landowner contacts and to obtain permission to hunt on private land. Taking a youth afield during scouting trips can provide an excellent opportunity to introduce future young hunters to the fields and forests of West Virginia.

Becoming familiar with the 2002-2003 Hunting and Trapping Regulations brochure, practice shooting and checking equipment are important parts of preseason scouting. Reviewing the annual Mast Survey, conducted by DNR personnel and available free to the public, should also be considered an important part of scouting. The Mast Survey has been summarized by many outdoor writers and published in local papers.

"I encourage hunters to get out and scout in their favorite hunting area," Taylor said. "Not only will this scouting greatly increase a hunter's chance of success when the various hunting seasons open, but it is enjoyable to be afield and enjoy our state's natural beauty."