What a year in the great outdoors

By Roger Wolfe Outdoors Columnist

2015 has come and gone already, where did time go? It seems like only yesterday we were watching 2014 come to a close and preparing to ring in the New Year, now we are saying hello to a brand spanking new 2016.

So before we welcome the New Year, let’s take a moment to reflect back on all the good times had in 2015. So many changes took place and many exciting things happened in the outdoors, where does one start?

One of the most notable and possibly, long reaching changes was the introduction of the electronic game checking system. It works and it seems that the sportsmen and women of the state have embraced the change and rolled with the punches.

The State just had one of its most productive antlered buck harvests in years and the system worked flawlessly. It also provided nearly real time harvest numbers that let not only the biologists and powers that be know how the season was going, but the hunters could also get updates on how the season was shaping up.

The electronic check in system has now run the full course of big game seasons and seems to be rolling right along, but it wasn’t the only big news in 2015. The WVDNR got a new commander at the helm in our very own Robert “Bob” Fala and he has wasted no time in getting to work.

One of the first and major tasks Director Fala was given was to get the Elk Restoration program off the ground and that he did. He and his staff got to work and through several partnerships and grants have added new public hunting lands to the state, gotten a release pen built and are ready for elk hooves on the ground. That is a heck of a start, hopefully 2016, will show us some hooves on the ground.

There were also tons of other great memories of the past year. Everything from sportsman’s banquets, to youth hunts, to outdoor field days, right on down the line through the opening of your favorite hunting season 2015 had some great moments.

Social media seemed to constantly be ablaze with trophy catches of every shape, size, and variety. There were monster muskies showing up on rivers around the state, 20 plus pound gobblers seemingly coming from every hollow and wood lot around the state, and the Mountain State produced a bumper crop of wall hanger bucks last season. Can 2016 possibly stack up to such high expectations?

I sure hope so! There is definitely potential on the horizon. 2016 has a lot to offer for the outdoor enthusiast, so let’s make the most of it.

The 2016 Trout Stocking Season begins on January 4th and the WVDNR just announced a near record amount of trout to be stocked in West Virginia waters this spring. More and bigger fish is always a great way to start the year.

The spring gobbler outlook for the state should be as good as, or better than it was in 2015. Turkey brood counts for 2014 were up and that translates into more huntable birds for the 2016 season. With more birds running around, hunters should be ready for some great gobbling action when the season rolls around.

It is all up to Mother Nature to see if we will have feast or famine in the mast and fruit bearing department this year, but with the mild winter we have had so far, the wildlife of the state shouldn’t have too much trouble making it through to the spring green-up. Little or no winter mortality for game is always a plus when hunting season rolls around.

All the pieces are in place for the New Year to be spectacular. Let’s not forget that there is still the hope to get word of thousands of more acres being added to the public hunting areas available across the state. A large chunk of those public lands are slated to be added right here in our own back yard.

Oh, and there is still that small matter of the Elk Program that has some real hope to see the first reintroduced elk showing up in 2016. Now, that would definitely add some sparkle in the crown for the year.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take this time to thank all of the readers for putting up with my ramblings thru 2015 and I hope that there will be plenty more to shout about in the year to come. So, Happy New Year to all, now get outside and enjoy it!

By Roger Wolfe Outdoors Columnist
http://coalvalleynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_Roger-Wolf.jpgBy Roger Wolfe Outdoors Columnist
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