Small game hunting opportunities in West Virginia

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s various small game hunting seasons are soon to be underway, and wildlife biologists from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources are predicting good opportunities for success.

Youth squirrel season is set for Sept. 3, 2016, with a bag limit of six. The statewide squirrel season opens Sept. 10, 2016, and runs through Feb. 28, 2017, with a daily bag limit of six. This season, hunters should find good numbers of squirrels due to a 57 percent increase in beech and a 73 percent increase in hickory during the fall of 2015. That increase should result in good squirrel reproduction in 2016. Areas where beech or hickory occur are the areas to hunt early in the season because they are a favored food source. White and red oak stands may also be good choices for hunters.

Cottontail rabbit numbers should be stable where there is suitable habitat. Rabbit season will run from Nov. 5, 2016, to Feb. 28, 2017, with a daily bag limit of five.

Ruffed grouse season begins Oct. 15, 2016, and ends Feb. 28, 2017. Look for grouse in 5- to10-year-old timber cuts, preferably with soft mast producing trees and vines such as grape, dogwood and sassafras. The daily bag limit is four.

Raccoon hunting season begins Oct. 15, 2016, and ends Feb. 28, 2017. Hunters with hounds should experience success near favored food sources. The daily bag limit is four per hunter or group of hunters.

Snowshoe hare, bobwhite quail, bobcat, red fox and gray fox hunting seasons will open Nov. 5, 2016. Red and gray fox night hunting season (with artificial light) begins Jan. 1, 2017, runs through Feb. 28, 2017. Hunters should check the 2016-2017 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulation Summary for specific opening and closing dates and bag limits for each species.