If the malingering issue of active West Virginia elk restoration ever needed an official jumpstart, it surely just got one! None other than the sitting Governor and Logan County native Earl Ray Tomblin closed out his brief comments with the exciting news at a recent Flatwoods, West Virginia gathering. The hundred or so of the Mountain State’s leading sportsmen and women in attendance rose to their feet and loudly applauded the announcement.
The fundraising function was hosted by the Sportsmen for Tomblin political action committee and was attended by a wide cross-section of supporters from the state’s leading conservation organizations. The Governor’s talk highlighted his lifetime of outdoor achievements dating from the boyhood day excitement of shooting his first squirrel up to and more importantly including his recent signing of successful legislation regarding a mentoring program for prospective first time hunters.
There was plenty of outdoor action in between as he alluded to his decades long efforts toward parks, public lands and way back when for the constitutional amendment to keep hunting and fishing license revenues from being raided for other purposes. For all that, he was fresh off an endorsement by the National Rifle Association (NRA) for the upcoming November election. And, these are rather hard to come by for Democratic Party candidates.
And just a short while back, the state’s most active outdoor lobbying group, the West Virginia Bowhunters Association (WVBA) heaped quite a bit of praise in his direction for his written commitments to professional deer management within their official magazine, The Bowhunters Voice. So his thumbs up stance to the active restoration of elk was perhaps no surprise to the folks at this gathering.
Per the odd sequence of succession related dominos following the death of Senator Robert Byrd, Earl Ray as he is his known by most in his friendly and unpretentious manner has been in a perpetual re-election mode. He seemed anxious to get yet another one over with and get down to the business of governing as he has over his entire lifetime since being voted into the legislature as a college student.
With some 300,000-plus hunters and anglers in a state of 1.8 million folks or so, this type of support would seem insurmountable to any opponent, yet he expressed disappointment with poor voter turnout while humbly requesting citizens to vote by not taking yet another election cycle for granted. All the while circulating the crowd, there was a vintage Logan Banner photo of a boyish looking Earl Ray along with then DNR Director Ed Hamrick stocking deer in Logan County.
It looks like a similar version with elk written all over it is just the next logical step. The return of these prodigal, native and big deer bugling sons should be something to see. They’ve been a long time gone.