CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's bowhunters might get some extra hunting time this fall.
Under a proposal being considered by the state Natural Resources Commission, the opening day of the state's deer, bear and wild boar archery seasons would be moved to the last Saturday in September. Currently, the opening day for the deer and bear seasons falls on the Saturday closest to Oct. 1, and the boar season falls on the Saturday closest to Oct. 15.
Division of Natural Resources biologists requested the change at Sunday's winter meeting of the commission, the seven-man panel of political appointees tasked with setting season dates and bag limits for the state's hunters and anglers. Paul Johansen, the DNR's assistant wildlife chief, said a consolidated late-September archery opening would serve two purposes:
"One, it would simplify things for hunters," he said. "Remembering that the season opens on the last Saturday in September is easier than figuring out what the Saturday closest to Oct. 1 is, because the calendar shifts from year to year. Sometimes that Saturday falls in September, sometimes it falls in October.
"Two, it would free up all of October for [DNR officials] to effectively put other seasons in place so there's enough separation between the seasons' opening and closing dates. When the bow season starts in October, doing that becomes a challenge because we have fewer days to pack all those seasons in."
Biologists also asked the commission to simplify the date for the state's fall turkey season, which currently opens on the Saturday closest to Oct. 15. Under the DNR's proposal, the opener would be moved to the second Saturday in October.
Commissioners also heard biologists' requests for this fall's hunting regulations for antlerless deer and black bears. While most hunting seasons remain the same from year to year, DNR officials routinely vary season lengths and bag limits during the antlerless and bear seasons to better control whitetail and bear populations.
Johansen said this year's proposed regulations don't differ much from last year's.
"The overall trend of both those seasons is that the regulations will be a little more liberal. On the antlerless-deer side, a few counties will see more conservative regulations, but by and large counties will either stand pat or move more liberal categories," he said.
If commissioners approve the DNR's proposal, the most significant change would occur among counties where deer populations remain too high.