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Outdoors - Firearms season opens this week

November 18, 2007|By BILL ANDERSON

The Monday of Thanksgiving week has been the opening day of the West Virginia firearms season for deer for as long as I can remember. The West Virginia opener (Nov. 19) is followed in Maryland on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 24) and Pennsylvania on Monday, Nov. 26.

Many hunters from our area still hunt on two or three of the opening days. Opening day is special; opening day times three is really special, because no matter how long you have been hunting deer, there is nothing quite like sitting in the predawn darkness, waiting for the first few moments of a new season.

Over the years, as deer populations increased and bag limits became more liberal, deer season seems to be a little less of an event. But it is still important to the many small businesses. In small towns across the region, quick stops and gas stations will be swarming with hunters making those last minute purchases. You can never have too many AA batteries or candy bars.

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According to the West Virginia DNR, hunting activities contribute more than $250 million to the state's economy each year. I have a friend who owned a combination gas station, store and diner near Elkins. His family also owned a small motel nearby and he had customers who had reserved rooms for the first three days of firearms deer season for more than 10 years. He always said deer season was make or break time for his business each year, and that is probably the case for many similar operations.

If you hunt in an area with heavy hunting pressure, opening day will be your best chance of the season to take a deer. Statistics from every state show that a majority of the deer bagged are taken on opening day. After a day or two of hunting pressure, the survivors catch on quickly and become much harder to find.

The successful hunters know that a plan for opening day is important. In fact, for most hunters the opening day strategy will make the difference between a filled deer tag and an unsuccessful season.

Some of the most successful deer hunters are the ones who learn how to use heavy hunting pressure to their advantage. Common sense will tell you that most of the hunting pressure will come from roads, parking areas or other access points. The deer will respond to all of this activity by moving towards areas with heavy cover and difficult access. The successful hunter knows the areas the deer are using as the season approaches, and tries to predict the areas the deer will move to when the guns start popping on opening day.

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