Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

November 25, 2013

Hoops and hunting in Monroe

Players, coaches finding time for both this week

LINDSIDE — The to-do list for many members of the James Monroe High School boys basketball team was pretty simple on Monday.

Hunt. Hoops. Hunt. Sleep.

The first day of gun season in West Virginia meant an early start of the day for hunters, young and old, looking for deer. The Mavericks also had preseason basketball practice in the middle of the day, though the school is on fall break.

Freshman Seth Walker of Lindside said he got up at 5:30 a.m. Monday.

“You’ve just got to adjust your schedule,” he said after practice concluded. “You’ve just got to get up a little earlier, but it’s worth it.”

“I don’t sleep too late, anyway,” he said.

Monroe County public schools learned years ago to schedule a fall break when gun season starts, because so many in the rural county are eager to hunt.

“It’s almost like a holiday around here,” said James Monroe senior Jacob McKlarney, who lives in Ballard. “I don’t know how many (hunters’) pickup trucks I passed this morning on my way here.”

The boys basketball coach at the school, Jonathan McPherson, said, “I feel hunting season is a big deal in this county. A large population of adults and also of our youth hunt during hunting season — not just (during) rifle season; there are a lot of them who’ve been hunting since bow season (began).”

“It’s something that we try to work around,” he said. “I don’t want to take that away from the kids over Thanksgiving break, because they don’t have school, and that’s one thing they like to do, they enjoy doing.”

“We try to have practice most of the time at mid-day, where they can hunt in the morning, go to practice and then hunt until dark if they want to.”

“I like to hunt, too,” the coach added. “Coach (Mike) Hines also hunts.” He also said several girls who attend James Monroe also hunt deer.

With McPherson standing nearby, McKlarney said about his agenda, “I’m going to put basketball first, always. ... I’m planning on going (hunting) this evening. It’s been basketball, this morning.”

His schedule includes “two or three days” of hunting this week, probably on land owned by his family. He’s been a hunter since he was in “third or fourth grade,” he said.

Dressed in camouflage on his way out of the front doors of the school, Walker said that tonight, after hours of hustling up and down the basketball court and more hours walking the chilly hillsides, “I should sleep all right.”

— Contact Tom Bone at tbone@bdtonline.com

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