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November is one of the greatest months for hunters.

As I peered out my office window this week, I could see leaves dropping from their summertime perches high in the trees, and I could see squirrels burying their cache of acorns across the yard, a sure indication that harvest time is near and winter is indeed coming.

I also have noticed on my daily strolls that the turkeys are being very elusive this fall season causing me to walk all over creation. I have seen summer’s grip giving way to fall’s cooler temperature and crisper air filling our mountains. In short, all indicators are pointing toward full-blown hunting season.

For most sportsmen and women in West Virginia, November is more than just a new page you flip in your calendar. November means the rut for deer hunters, the annual tradition of deer camps during the Thanksgiving holiday, and that opportunities abound for hunters in the form of multiple species to hunt and the seasons are wide open.

In anticipation of one of the greatest months for all hunters, I hope that a column dedicated to becoming prepared for the upcoming seasons may be received as very timely news. To assist me in doing so, I thought sharing some information from our Division of Natural Resources professionals makes perfect sense.

“You can greatly improve your odds of having a successful hunt by scouting the area you want to hunt and checking your hunting equipment in advance,” said Vinnie Johnson, assistant district wildlife biologist for the West Virginia DNR’s District 3 office at French Creek.

Johnson said understanding an area’s topography and habitat helps a hunter judge where wildlife travel and where cover is located. Hunters should also identify where there are acorns, hickory, beech and other hard mast-producing trees because these food sources are highly sought after by game species such as deer, bear and squirrel during this time of year.

Checking one’s equipment before going out to hunt is also important. Hunters should:

n Shoot their weapon before a season starts with the same arrows or ammunition they plan to use while hunting. Changing arrow weights or an ammunition’s bullet weight could drastically affect accuracy.

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n Check gun sights to make sure they weren’t bumped or shifted while in storage.

n Check bow strings for fraying and bow arms for cracks. If either breaks during a draw, there is the potential for serious harm.

n Make sure broadheads are sharp, which will aid in a quick, ethical kill.

n Check all tree stand straps and the safety harness for wear and replace anything that shows signs of fraying.

“As a sportsman, you want to make sure you are safe and that you have the equipment to make a good, clean kill if you get the opportunity,” Johnson said.

A final and important thing to do when preparing for hunting season is to know West Virginia hunting regulations. Hunters can download a copy at They can also get a free copy at local WVDNR district offices and license vendors around the state. Hunters with any questions about rules and regulations may call their local WVDNR district office Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Good luck this fall, and if you happen to see any turkeys, feel free to give me a ring — I need all the help I can get!

Chris Ellis is a veteran of the outdoors industry. His book “Hunting, Fishing and Family from The Hills of West Virginia” is available at Contact him at

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