Bowhunters need to know this: There’s a mistake in the 2015 West Virginia hunting-regulations guide that could get you in trouble with the law.
On page 15 of the regulations brochure, 11 counties or parts of counties are listed as having a limit of three either-sex deer during the archery-and-crossbow season. Three is incorrect; the limit is actually two deer of either sex.
The affected counties are: Boone, southern Clay, western Fayette, northern Greenbrier, southern Kanawha, western Mineral, western Pendleton, western Raleigh, Tucker and Webster.
Paul Johansen, wildlife chief for the state Division of Natural Resources, called the error “unfortunate.”
He said it’s too late to reprint or recall the thousands upon thousands of booklets that have been printed and distributed throughout the state, but added that the DNR is doing what it can to get the word out to as many people as possible.
“We’ve issued a news release,” he said. “And we’ll get the online version of the regulations booklet corrected as quickly as we can.”
The problem with a news release is that there’s no guarantee people will get the news.
“It’s definitely not a 100 percent fail-safe,” Johansen acknowledged.
Correcting the online regulations must be done by the state’s publications office. Johansen doesn’t expect the correction to be made until later this week.
This isn’t the first time an error showed up in the state’s hunting and fishing regulations. Art Shomo, who has been involved in the process for years, said he can only remember one or two years when the brochures went out completely mistake-free.
Some of the mistakes have been doozies.
“One year we had a mistake in the regulation that governs the width of leg-hold traps,” Shomo recalled. “The regulation was supposed to be 6 1/2 inches. In the regulations booklet that year, it was printed as 6 1/2 feet.”
The hurried process the DNR goes through each year in publishing the regulations pamphlet almost makes mistakes inevitable.
“We can’t do anything until after the [early May] Natural Resources Commission meeting, which is when big-game hunting regulations are finalized for the upcoming fall,” Johansen explained. “The pamphlets need to go out in July. So we really have to scramble to get everything put together and off to the printers. When you have a regulations summary that is 42 pages long, errors are going to pop up.”
This time, though, the error has the potential to get otherwise law-abiding bowhunters in trouble by making them think they can kill three deer instead of two. Johansen said that law enforcement officers would know about the mistake and would likely go easy on violators.
“In the past, when there have been inadvertent errors in our [regulations] brochures, our officers have always used good discretion and judgment in dealing with hunters who ended up inadvertently violating the law,” he added.
Col. Jerry Jenkins, head of the DNR’s Law Enforcement Section, said Natural Resources Police officers are aware of the typo.
“Officers will take [the typo] into consideration when the time comes,” he said. “I can’t tell the public we’ll ignore [violations], but we certainly will use discretion.”