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John McCoy: 'Dog Day' ramblings and observations

As summer reaches its blazing peak, please allow me to share a few hot ruminations from the fevered mind of an overheated senior citizen:

I’ve been out in the field a few times in recent weeks, and I’ve encountered more turkeys than I can ever recall seeing over such a short period.

Most of the birds were hens, but only a couple of those hens had poults. That could mean any of several things.

One, this spring’s nesting success wasn’t very good;

Two, nesting success was better than it appeared, and the poultless hens I saw were the exception rather than the rule;

Three, nesting success was good, and those seemingly barren hens had poults that weren’t visible because of heavy undergrowth; and

Four, nesting success was average to good, and my sample size was simply too small to paint a true picture.

The Division of Natural Resources’ annual turkey brood report will yield much less anecdotal information, but numbers from that won’t be available until late summer or early fall. Until we see some hard data, casual observations are all we’ll have to go by.


There’s no mistaking a West Virginia summer. Two weeks ago, rivers throughout the state were running nice and full, perfect for fishing.

Last weekend I drove to Danville for a meeting, and got quite a shock when I crossed the Little Coal River. Its waters were hydrogen-clear and low, low, low. I saw a girl paddling downriver in a yellow kayak. It appeared she had just inches of water under her hull.

I had hoped to do a little smallmouth fishing on the Little Coal. Looks like that will have to wait until there’s a little more flow.


Deer hunters are starting to get excited, and justifiably so.

It’s the game-camera season. Log onto any online social-media hunting group, and you’ll almost certainly be treated to images of some really nice velvet-antlered bucks.

Some of the bucks have already acquired colorful nicknames. Who wouldn’t want to hunt a buck named Bruiser, Thor, or Studly Do-Right?

It’s mid-July. The archery season is still two and a half months away, and already trophy-buck fever is starting to heat up the internet. Ain’t technology wonderful?


West Virginia’s new hunting-regulations booklets have been printed and are now available to the public.

Something in them caught my eye. Through a quirk in the calendar, the first of two early firearm seasons for black bears will begin on Aug. 31.

If we ever needed evidence of just how crowded the fall hunting calendar has become, there it is. Only a decade ago, the only seasons that began in early September were the early goose season and the first segment of the mourning-dove season. Now we have the goose season, the dove season, the first bear season and the squirrel season.

I suppose it was inevitable that some opening dates would have to be moved into August, and now it has happened.

So now we’re into August on one end and into January on the other. Hey, if it gets people off the couch and out enjoying nature, maybe it’s worth it. Still shocks the system a bit, though.

We’ll adapt. We always do. Until then? Stay cool, everyone. This blasted heat can’t last forever…

Reach John McCoy at, 304-348-1231, or follow @GazMailOutdoors on Twitter.

Funerals Today, Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Armstead, David - Noon, Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.

Crawford, Charles - 7:30 p.m., Andrews' residence, Belleaire at Devonshire, Scott Depot.

Duff, Catherine Ann - 11 a.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Jarrett, Shirley - 1 p.m., Mt. Juliet United Methodist Church, Belle.

Lawrentz, Deo Mansfried - 11 a.m., Koontz Cemetery, Clendenin.

McGraw, Judy Fay - 2 p.m., Jodie Missionary Baptist Church, Jodie.

Mullins, Alice Ellen (Blessing) - Noon, Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Staats, Anthony Vernon “Tony” - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.