I have a tendency to mark my life in terms of hunting seasons, rather than years, and many of you will know what I mean by that. It’s hard to believe how fast they go by; as this edition of the hunting regulations goes to print, another spring turkey season has come and gone, and here we are again, watching the summer months pass and getting ready for the kick-off of another fall hunting season.
And what great hunting opportunities Virginia has to offer. As with many hunters, I watch the programs and read the articles about hunts in other states. I make plans in my head for distant hunts that never seem to come to fruition, either because I never make the time or my budget won’t allow it. But across the seasons, opportunity for opportunity, it’s very difficult to beat all that we enjoy right here in the Commonwealth.
This year will see an especially exciting event, our first modern elk hunt. Though a small hunt, it’s significant in marking the early success of the restoration of this magnificent animal to Virginia, and also a tremendous opportunity to show the greater public the conservation benefits of hunting. Our license lottery was entered by more than 31,000 individuals representing all 50 states. That’s approximately half a million dollars that will go right back into wildlife conservation because of the contributions of these hunters. Not to mention the economic benefits from elk viewing and associated recreation that our partners down in Southwest Virginia are already taking advantage of.
Our populations remain strong. As I write this, we are seeing the reports of yet another very productive spring turkey season for our hunters during a time period where other states have not been so lucky. Deer, bear, and small game opportunities remain abundant.
And I’ve had the good fortune to be selected for the opportunity to represent Virginia and other southeastern states on a national working group focused on benefiting our waterfowl through conservation efforts in the Canadian nesting grounds, where the birds we see migrate from. Set the time aside on your calendar for the fall now, get out in the field, hunt safe, and make sure to take the time to introduce someone new this season.
Ryan Brown, Executive Director, DWR