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Bringing Back “The Two Season Hunter”

posted Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 9:54 AM by Frank Jezioro

By Frank Jezioro – Director, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

Hunting season changes mean more opportunities
I hadn’t bow hunted for more than 30 years until this year. Like many of our hunters, there are so many hunting opportunities that we often have to pick and choose when, where and what species we will hunt. Most of us have one hunting passion we hold above all others. In other words, if we were told we would have to choose only one species of game to hunt, we would choose that which is most passionate to us.

For those with dogs it might be raccoon hunting, rabbit hunting, bear hunting or bird hunting. Some would choose turkey hunting and some would choose bow hunting. Each hunter usually has one type of species that they are truly dedicated to, but also like to hunt everything that it is legal to hunt. While I enjoy hunting all species, I would have to opt for bird hunting with my bird dogs if limited to only one type of hunting. Part of the dilemma is that with bow season, grouse season, woodcock season, wild boar season, and raccoon season opening around the 15th Of October every year, I am heavily involved in bird hunting with the dogs at that time.

All that changed this past year. I hadn’t bow hunted in nearly 35 years because I just couldn’t devote the time needed to be successful. But that changed this year when we opened the archery season for deer on October 1. After listening to many of our state’s bow hunters, and after checking to make sure there was no negative impact to opening the archery deer season early, the rules were changed and we opened the archery season two weeks earlier than in the past. This meant that many of us who used to be “Two Season Hunters” could now enjoy our bow hunting prior to the opening of the various other seasons. Another positive result of the excellent deer management of the DNR for the past several decades is that you can now successfully hunt deer in just about every county in the state and do it in the mornings and evenings before and after work.

Reviving old skills
Getting back into bow hunting was relatively easy for me. I gave my compound bow to son John and asked that he have his bow guy put a sight and peep sight on the bow. That done and a dozen arrows obtained, the practice began. Shooting a few times with little grandson Liam in our yard, I soon felt proficient enough to hit a deer with a killing shot out to 30 yards.

While looking at some storm damage for a friend, I noticed a very large deer track, bigger than I had seen outside of Ohio and Kansas and not too far from home. A tree stand was strategically set and the second week of the season found me out a couple of mornings and evenings. I soon remembered why I liked bow hunting so many years ago. I enjoyed the serenity of the woods and the viewing up close of the various forms of wildlife. While I saw many deer, small bucks and does and fawns, the deer I felt made the track eluded me. Then one evening right at dark I saw a very large-bodied deer working its way up through the timber. But its caution made it move so slowly that it was too dark to shoot by the time it made it to my stand.

But now I was sure this was the big deer I was after. The next evening, the big deer didn’t show and I began to wonder if it was just passing through when I saw it. But the next evening, the last evening I would be able to hunt as I had to attend a meeting out of state the following day, the big buck made another appearance. This time it was a little earlier. It came just as cautiously but it passed by stand early enough for a good shot. I felt very confident when I touched the trigger on the release I was using. It all happened so fast that it was a blur in my mind’s eye but I thought for sure the arrow had been true and shot through the deer’s chest. After a few minutes I climbed down and went to look. While I couldn’t find the arrow in the high grass and weeds I did find some blood.

Bringing Back “The Two Season HunterIt was getting dark pretty fast now and I knew it was best to let the deer lay for a while before pushing it. I collected my gear and called son John to tell him what had happened. After about an hour he showed up with lights and we picked up the blood trail. From my description of the shot, where the deer was standing, the actions of the deer and the color of the blood, John deduced that I had hit a little back and a little low. He said he had seen the exact set of circumstances a few years ago on a trophy buck he had shot in Ohio. He said he thought I had nipped one lung and hit the liver.

After tracking it in the dark until nearly 9 p.m., we decided to wait until morning to take up the track again. At first light the task was undertaken again. The interesting thing was that the deer was only about 30 yards from where we had stopped. As the photo shows, the buck was a mature four-year old, with antlers 18 inches on the outside and a very large body that field dressed at 161 pounds on a Cabela’s scale.

Early response to early seasons is good
From what we are hearing, the early special seasons for archery and muzzloaders and the early opening of the general archery season have been very successful and well received by not only our hunters, but also by out-of-state hunters who can now come here as well as our surrounding states. And it brings many like me back as “Two Season Hunters.” We can now enjoy the early seasons and still pursue our passions when the balance of the seasons open in October and November. All of these openings are geared to giving our hunters more opportunities to pursue the great hunting we have in West Virginia.

I might add that from the reports I am getting from across the state about the numbers of deer being seen and the number of nice bucks, I am looking for a very good deer season, depending on the weather of course. All that said, November will usher in the balance of our hunting seasons. Get out as often as you can, take a child with you if you can, and enjoy the wonderful hunting West Virginia has to offer. Above all be safe, use a harness in your tree stand and make sure of your target before taking off your safety.

Frank Jezioro
Another great blog!
posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 10:44 AM by Allie McKowen
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