South Charleston, W.Va. – Better hunting for both raccoons and ruffed grouse is forecast by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resource’s Wildlife Resources Section (WRS). Abundant wild food conditions in 2010 should have resulted in a good carryover of raccoons through the winter into spring.

Hunting season for raccoons opens Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. and continues through Feb. 29. The daily bag limit is four. The ruffed grouse season opens Oct. 15 and closes Feb. 29, also with a daily bag limit of four.

“Excellent winter survival usually means higher production and survival of young,” said Paul Johansen, Assistant Chief in Charge of Game Management. “Poor mast conditions this year, especially black cherry output and spotty acorn crops, will tend to concentrate the ‘masked bandits’ in areas where food is available, including beech groves, ridge tops where red oak appears to have ‘hit’ better than lowland areas, and thornapple/crabapple thickets.”

Brood counts for grouse this year are currently running more than 60 percent higher than 2010 tallies. Chick and poult survival also appears to be good as WRS personnel report some late year broods with six to 10 young per hen.

“Although some soft mast such as thornapple and dogwood may have birds scattered, we are still expecting higher quality hunts and a good grouse harvest because of the higher number of birds available,” said Johansen. “Hunters in October and November will find grouse in and around thornapple, dogwood, and thick beech clumps. January-February hunting may be rewarding in grape clumps or greenbrier thickets that have produced fruits.”

The WRS conducts very important hunter surveys of both raccoon and ruffed grouse hunters. These crucial data gathered during the surveys help biologists to track populations and monitor species through hunter’s observations and efforts. Hunters wishing to participate in these species cooperator surveys should contact Rich Rogers (304-822-3551, for raccoon, and Tammie Thompson (304-637-0245, for ruffed grouse. Each cooperator is supplied with a complete report prior to the next hunting season.

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