"Four years ago, when the September archery and muzzleloader seasons for antlerless deer were being considered, some hunters said it would be impossible to kill a deer in 75-degree temperatures and get it out of the woods without having the meat spoil. As it turned out, many guys found a way to do just that."
DNR administrators also got some resistance when they first proposed to change the squirrel opener from early October to early September. Some critics argued that lactating female squirrels would be killed, and that their offspring would then die.
Others argued that squirrels might still be infested by botfly larvae, commonly referred to as warbles.
On the other hand, they got almost no resistance when they broached the idea of starting the deer and bear archery seasons two weeks earlier, in late September instead of mid-October. Bowhunters almost universally praised the move.
Wildlife officials hope hunters will have similar fondness for a brand-new season implemented this year. Part of the so-called "traditional" firearm season for antlerless deer has been shifted forward from its usual spot, from early December to late October.
There was no hue and cry for the change, but DNR biologists asked for it because they believed it would help them stabilize whitetail populations in overpopulated areas.
"We wanted to start the antlerless season earlier so females would be taken out of the population before the rut," Johansen explained. "With fewer females available for bucks to mate with, the rut will become more compressed. Does will drop their fawns in a more compressed time window, which in turn will reduce the amount of predation on newborn fawns."
Johansen believes hunters ultimately will come to view all the early seasons as additional opportunities to pursue their favorite pastime.
"For the most part, we've seen pretty broad support for providing extra days of hunting," he said.
Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1231 or johnmc...@wvgazette.com.