Getting permission for private land hunting and more outdoor news

Posted on: August 14, 2018 | Bob Frye | Comments

Private land hunting can be productive.

Getting permission for private land hunting is easier is hunters remember a few suggestions.
Photo: West Virginia DNR

A roundup of outdoor news from around the country…

It’s that time of year: hunters all over are looking for places to hunt.

All those eyeing private land should be doing their homework right now.

That’s the advice of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. It says getting permission before using a property is the responsible and ethical thing to do.

“Hunting ethically and legally preserves our image as sportsmen and women and promotes good stewardship of our natural resources,” said Gary Foster, assistant chief in charge of game management for the agency.

Division officials recommend getting written permission to hunt private lands.

Other agencies do the same. The Ohio Division of Wildlife even has a sample permission form hunters and landowners can use.

Meanwhile, Rothman Gordon, a law firm, has a similar form for landowners in Pennsylvania to hand out.

Beyond that, the National Rifle Association offers some suggestions for getting permission to hunt private property. It recommends:

  • Starting early, or at least as far in advance of hunting seasons as possible. Last-minute requests for access are generally less successful.
  • Networking, or relying on friends and family to make introductions.
  • Making a good first impression. Dress neatly and be prepared to explain who you are and why you’re a safe hunter.
  • Offering something in return, be it a few hours of labor, a portion of your game or something else.
  • Accepting any restrictions imposed by the landowner. If he allows only small game hunting, or hunting only on certain days or at certain times, adhere to those rules.
  • Providing contact information so the landowner can reach you if needed.

Whether on private land or public, though, hunters should always be mindful of how they present themselves, added Paul Johansen, chief of West Virginia’s wildlife resources section.

“Treat all land, whether public or private, as if it were your own,” Johansen said. “How we act in the field and treat others reflects on all of us as hunters.”

Fighting CWD

The fight to contain chronic wasting disease goes on.

Recently, two states took steps to address it. One has the disease and wants to contain it. One doesn’t and want to keep things that way.

Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission – dealing with CWD since its discovery in that state in 2015 — approved a whole host of regulatory changes.

One interesting one: it eliminated antler restrictions in its 16-county CWD zone for this year. At the same time, though, it approved a mandatory antler point restriction in five of those counties for next year.

“This is intended as a tool to evaluate the effects of antler point restrictions on the spread and prevalence of CWD, along with deer population reduction,” the commission said.

The commission also approved a statewide ban on the use of most deer urines and attractants. Only products certified by the Archery Trade Association are legal.

Meanwhile, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission banned the importation of deer, elk or moose carcasses from areas known to have CWD.

A story in the Spokesman-Review said the rule is in effect immediately.

Unusual bird

Turkey hunters all around the country measure the spurs on their gobblers as a way of ranking trophies.

The length of the spurs helps indicate age. Longer spurs are generally found on older – harder to kill — birds.

But one New York hunter this past year got a turkey unlikely to be topped.

Bill Hollister, a retired turkey biologist, killed a gobbler with three spurs on each leg.

According to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, such a bird is “almost unheard of.”

“Over the past decade, DEC staff have examined thousands of legs from turkeys killed by hunters in the fall and have seen missing spurs and double spurs, but never a triple spur,” it said.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks – citing Lovett Williams, a renowned turkey biologist in Florida –said “less than two dozen gobblers with double spurs have been reported. There are only two reports of birds with triple spurs.”

Grouse declines

Two years ago, the Pennsylvania Game Commission eliminated its popular post-Christmas grouse hunting season because populations of the bird are in steep decline.

The move, biologists said, protects mature birds that have survived West Nile Virus infection. Hunters, for the most part, accepted that explanation.

Now, their counterparts in Wisconsin are looking to do something similar.

But they’re getting less buy-in.

Officials with the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board proposed closing the state’s grouse hunting season early, also to protect declining populations.

The Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society oppose the move, though. At least for now.

In testimony before the board, David Moore, chairman of the Grouse Society’s board of directors, said declines in grouse are important and should be a top-five priority in Wisconsin. But before shortening seasons, the Natural Resources Board should develop a comprehensive grouse management plan that’s transparent and understandable to hunters, he added.

Fishing licenses

In Pennsylvania, one state lawmaker wants to make it easier for college students to fish.

Sen. John Blake, a Lackawanna County Democrat, sponsored Senate Bill 1227. It would allow non-resident students to purchase a Pennsylvania resident fishing license while attending school.

Right now, a non-resident license costs $51.90. That’s prohibitive for those on a “college budget,” he said.

Resident licenses, by comparison, cost $22.90.

“Out-of-state students who attend two and four-year institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania make significant social and economic impacts on their host communities. Therefore, we should be doing all we can to showcase our vast waterways and renowned fishing opportunities,” Blake said.

His bill is before the Senate game and fisheries committee.

Hanging on

Speaking of unusual wildlife, how about this whitetail?

According to a story on, trail camera photos captured an Iowa buck with hard antlers on July 4. It apparently never lost them from last year.

Quality Deer Management Association officials called the phenomenon “unprecedented.”

The story says biologists elsewhere are at a loss to explain the deer’s headgear, too. The most common theory cited is that the animal has unusually high levels of testosterone.

That good be a sign of perfect health or a medical condition that could ultimately prove fatal, it seems.


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Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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Bob Frye is a storyteller with a passion for all things outdoors. He hunts, he fishes, he hikes, he camps, he paddles, backpacks and snowshoes depending on the season. If he’s not an expert at anything, it’s because he’s passionate to try a little bit of everything.