And that's right, berries, broods, bunnies and bugs are all part of the mix. There's an army of statewide eyes and ears watching over all this stuff as it relates to the upcoming hunting prospects and the overall vitality of our wildlife populations. Many of you are no doubt doing likewise. Here's an early preview.
Official grouse and turkey brood watchers turn in the numbers of hens with chicks thereof. The early reports are not that good per the heavy rainfalls of the late May and early June, the peak hatching period. However, the July, August and September data are still to come. So let's not discount our chickens 'til they're all hatched out. That is, re-nesting efforts to replace lost broods can still add hope to this year's hatch. So stay tuned.
Early mast is looking good overall with lots of beechnuts being seen too. The local rabbit and deer reports have also been excellent. Road killed deer in our parts are rivaling the deer factory byways of Interstate 77 and 79. Bowhunters ought to be practicing up and getting their arrows sharpened. The continued local trophy potential depends on their passing up the younger bucks and taking out a few does, especially along Corridor G, where the road kill situation is most pronounced.
Moving on to the bugs, the many brown leaved twig ends to otherwise healthy looking green tree foliage is called cicada wilt. This year's crop of female cicadas have laid their eggs in those now dead twig ends as deposited with a saw-like ovipositor. The twigs eventually weaken and fall to the ground like a parachute. The larvae within then burrow into the ground and latch onto a root for sustenance in the "grub" stage to emerge as adults seventeen years from now circa 2025!
In other news, the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) group is hosting a conference for professionals at Chief Logan State Park Conference Center the first week of August. Several hundred are expected to arrive from the Appalachian Region. ARRI has been extremely active in the promotion of sound reforestation practices on surface coal mined lands for the past several years. West Virginia University, the Office of Surface Mining and the WVDEP are key players in sponsoring the conference.
Since trees are rather slow growing, the general public may not be generally aware of the transition from the grassier reclaims of the past to the greater goal of commercial forest establishment. For more on ARRI and the conference, go to www.arri.osmre.gov.
An inaugural banquet for the Southern West Virginia Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) is being planned. Their first banquet will be held at the Logan Country Club Saturday, August 30 at 6 p.m. For further information or tickets, contact Eric Salyer of Massey Energy Company at 239-2300.
Massey and other coal companies and related businesses have been critically important to the conservation fundraising efforts of Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation and now RGS.