Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

November 26, 2013

Locked and loaded: Firearm season underway

— — Here in the mountains of southern West Virginia, it’s not unusual for many to take the week of Thanksgiving off from work or even school to head out to the woods for the start of traditional buck firearm season.

Gun season began Monday, and continues through Dec. 7. The Division of Natural Resources estimates that 330,000 hunters will participate in the yearly two-week tradition. Gun season is open to all counties in West Virginia except McDowell, Wyoming, Mingo and Logan.

For many families living in our area, the start of firearms season is a proud family tradition that has carried down through several generations. It is a chance for fathers and sons — and mothers and daughters — to head out to the woods together. Many families begin planning for the two-week firearm season weeks if not months in advance.

But gun season also is a big economic engine for the Mountain State. In the weeks leading up to buck firearm season, hunters are purchasing items such as hunting licenses, ammunition, knives, orange jackets and other proper gear necessary for a safe hunting expedition. But the benefits extend beyond just hunting shops. Small mom-and-pop stores across southern West Virginia, as well as gas stations, grocery stores and department stores, also reap welcomed rewards from buck season.

Many of the smaller establishments count on this yearly revenue boost from hunters, just as larger retailers count on Black Friday shoppers to boost their holiday sales.

Last year, hunters killed more than 56,000 bucks during the two-week gun season, which was down 6 percent from 2011, the Associated Press reported Monday. The DNR estimates this year’s buck kill should be similar to 2012, while the overall number of deer killed in 2013 should be higher than a year ago.

Hunters are limited to two bucks during gun season and three antlered deer per year, whether during archery or firearms season.

And the hunt is now underway. Hundreds of hunters are now fanning out across West Virginia. And that number will continue to grow throughout the week. Many others will take to the woods after enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving dinner Thursday.

It is our hope that all hunters across the region will enjoy a safe and robust gun season. And safety must come first and foremost when heading into the woods. According to the DNR, all hunters should wear blaze orange, and should always make sure they properly identify their target and what’s behind their target before shooting.

Please exercise good judgment and common sense while in the woods.  By doing so, we can all ensure a safe and fun gun season.

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