The outdoor year 2012 will live in infamy for its dastardly monster storms that we gladly grant good riddance.
The summer blast was the widespread power-killer called “Derecho” of all things unheard of; the Halloween sequel was “Frankenstorm,” dumping its disastrous 30 to 50 inches of heavy wet snow in places.
It was thus a banner year for both power outages and “camping-in” products ranging from flashlights and batteries to Coleman stoves and generators.
Nicely nestled between the storms coincidentally capitalizing on all that demand within a relatively short drive was the gala for our very own Cabela’s sporting goods. And did you remember these other outdoor events of the leap/election year of 2012?
The new senior lifetime license went into effect for those reaching 65 on or after January 1. It was enacted in order to capture the gray-haired head count and the share of varying federal excise taxes that they pay on their equipment. Deer farming bills that pushed for the transfer of penned-deer authority from WVDNR to the Department of Agriculture were thwarted again by the sporting public.
As Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was subsequently discovered in Pennsylvania with evidence there and increasingly elsewhere that link such facilities as disease incubators. Jeopardizing the incalculably valuable wild deer herd resource is just not worth the risk of a more liberal approach to penned-up whitetails.
Speaking of those wonderful wild deer herds, they’re languishing here with low hunter kill numbers not seen in decades despite official 2012 forecasts to the contrary. DNR unveiled and apparently implemented its new deer management plan with its lower objective deer numbers and likely hunter participation to boot. Unfortunately, so could go the major funding base for West Virginia wildlife management.
Wild turkeys seem to be in a similar funk of modern era lows but there appears to be a spark of recovery in their offing. On a sad note, West Virginia lost one of its favorite sons upon the death of the noted photographer of the eastern subspecies of the wild turkey, Glenn “Tink” Smith. Black bears continue to be the big game bright spot, expanding in both numbers and in-state range though they are nearing the saturation point.
Moving on to the prospects for elk, homegrown Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was re-elected after committing not only to keep the stated deer pens under the current control of DNR but to kick-start the long anticipated active restoration of elk here. Fresh in the aftermath of the election, folks are now anxiously awaiting. Virginia by the way made its first elk release at its coalfields sector just across the border from southwestern West Virginia’s similar turf.
At the local level, anglers both young and old have been turning up some monster brown trout from local experimental coalfield stockings. The Buffalo and Huff Creek Watershed Associations and the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Logan Area Chapter continue with their major conservation, youth event and charitable contributions. Buffalo Creek’s was granted Army Corps Authorization for its long awaited stream restoration permit. All in all, it’s been another very interesting year.
And last but not least, Happy New Year!