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Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Time is of the essence for Virginia hunters hoping to take advantage of a number of special quota hunt opportunities offered for the upcoming season.
The deadline for applications for a number of the hunts is Friday.
Hunters hoping to try for the most popular quota offering, the deer hunts at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, will have to wait another year as that application period closed out last week.
The Arsenal hunts, as they are known, are popular because the secure, high-fenced facility has a robust whitetail population — the hunts are held in order to keep that deer herd in check, in fact — while antler restrictions help ensure a high percentage of good-sized bucks.
While other hunts might not offer the opportunity for participants to see quite as many mature bucks as the Radford hunts, they still can provide for excellent hunting, often in appealing locations.
Below is a rundown of a few of the other hunts worth considering. More details, as well as applications, are available at www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/quotahunts.
Wild hogs in Virginia Beach
While many states with feral pig populations offer year-round, day and night hunting for the destructive, fast-reproducing critters, Virginia’s only well-established hog population can be found on the coast, at False Cape State Park and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
The animals do a lot of damage, but because open hunting is not an option, a quota system is required.
In years past, a number of hunting date windows were offered. This year, the hunt will be held only four days: October 23-26. This is a popular hunt so expect tough lottery competition for the 116 hunting slots offered per day.
Selected hunters are assigned to specific hunting zones for their hunt days, and are trucked into the hunting area long before dawn.
The terrain is flat, but this is hardly easy hunting.
The ground is swampy, the brush and vegetation thick and the bugs and snakes abundant.
During a hog hunt at Back Bay a number of years ago I came within inches of stepping on a 3-foot-long water moccasin, which was fortunately slow to react in the early morning chill.
Deer are also fair game during this hunt, and I’ve actually seen more deer than hogs on my two Back Bay hunts.
Hunters may use shotguns with buckshot or slugs, or archery tackle, on the hunts.
While this is a rugged hunt, it’s something hunters who don’t mind breaking a sweat should try. And because the hunt dates coincide with the striped bass season in the Chesapeake Bay, it can also be part of a coastal cast and blast getaway.
Featherfin WMA deer
No public hunting ground can compare to the Radford Army Ammunition Plant when it comes to deer hunting, but the Featherfin Wildlife Management Area is pretty good.
Before the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries took ownership of the 2,800-acre tract near Farmville, the owners took a quality deer management approach to the property. Special antler restrictions – bucks must have four or more points on one side — have remained in effect since the state took over.
Deer hunting is open during the early archery season, but hunting is managed by quotas once muzzleloader season opens starting in early November.
Selected hunters have access for three- to four-day windows. Fourteen hunters are selected for each period, and each selected hunter is allowed one guest.
Officially, the hunts are for any game in season, but the focus is on deer.
Featherfin offers a variety of terrain, including mature woods, thick brush and open fields.
Public vehicle access to the property’s interior is not allowed so hunters who want to get deep need to be prepared to burn some boot leather.
Special deer hunts for the mobility impaired
The Virginia chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Wheelin’ Sportsmen group will host special deer hunts this fall at three state parks.
A muzzleloader hunt will be held at Shenandoah State Park on Nov. 4, with Lake Anna State Park hosting a black powder hunt the next day.
A general firearms hunt is planned for Nov. 23 at Staunton River State Park.
While spots are limited for the hunts, applicants are rarely turned away. The Wheelin Sportsmen group does a great job of coordinating travel and lodging, as well as providing guides and assistance during the hunts.
More information is available by contacting state Wheelin’ Sportsmen coordinator Robin Clark at 434-249-6154 or email@example.com.
State park hunting opportunities
In an attempt to keep deer herds in check, hunting is offered at a number of Virginia state parks.
Several parks offer managed open hunting in designated areas, but most offer hunting by reservation on a limited number of designated days.
Visit my Wild Life blog on Roanoke.com for more information about state park hunting opportunities, including details on a youth deer hunt and workshop at Claytor Lake State Park in December.
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