DNR officials have tried to offset the lack of public land by cutting limited amounts of timber on state-owned wildlife management areas.
"We've done some on the Stonewall Jackson WMA, and we're looking at doing some on most of our other WMAs," Jezioro said. "Not for timber sales, but to create habitat. Where we've done these cuts, we've created some nice grouse-hunting spots."
Even in places that have good habitat, Jezioro said hunters should identify where grouse are likely to be feeding.
"Early in the season, when the weather is nice and the grouse are scattered, look for red haws," he said, using the common term for red-berried hawthorn trees. "Later, in November when the grapes start to fall, grouse will concentrate there."
In January and February, long after the red haws and grapes are gone, Jezioro said greenbrier plants that still have berries would likely have grouse nearby. He also suggested that hunters look for patches of green on the forest floor.
"More than people realize, grouse eat a tremendous amount of broad-leafed green cover, particularly clover. Hunters should never discount that grouse eat a lot of greens," he said.
Woodcock numbers declined for many years, too, but now appear to be stabilizing.
"For a long time, they were declining 2 percent a year, but we've seen their numbers level off the last two years," Jezioro said. "Their numbers may even be increasing a bit."
West Virginia has resident woodcock, but most of the birds that hunters see are migrants headed south for the winter.
"The heaviest concentration of migrant birds seems to occur between Nov. 1 and Nov. 10. If we get a sudden snowstorm during that time, they'll move on south. But if the weather stays good, they tend to stay around a while," Jezioro said.
Woodcock feed primarily on earthworms, so they prefer marshy areas with soft soil. Jezioro said the state's top woodcock hotspots include the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the Meadow River WMA, and to a lesser extent the Green Bottom and McClintic WMAs.
"We've been working with the feds at the Canaan Valley NWR on a woodcock enhancement project," he said. "We've cut a lot of the old alder and aspen they had there, and it's allowing new alder and aspen trees to regenerate and come up. We've had good flights of woodcock in the area, and the birds have been staying around longer."
He added that this year's woodcock brood count was good, and biologists say the number of birds passing through the state should also be good.
"While woodcock hunting is limited in the state, it is quite good," Jezioro said.
This year's grouse and woodcock seasons both began Saturday. The woodcock season will end Nov. 26, and the grouse season will end Feb. 28.
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.