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West Virginia hunters ready for five-week spring gobbler hunt

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The sun rises Monday on the first day of the spring gobbler season in West Virginia. However, this is a season like no turkey hunter has ever seen before in the Mountain State. In recent years, decisions were made which resulted in an evolution to gobbler hunting in the sate. It’s the first time ever the state will see a five week season.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources for many years took withering criticism for opening the season too late in the minds of many hunters.  The agency always defended the season timing so as to insure all breeding was completed. Eventually, biologists reached a point where they relented .  It was concluded the state’s turkey population could sustain opening the season a week earlier–but they were still leery of extending it to five weeks. The traditional last week of the season was lost with the change. Since then, a lot of hunters have run the other way and called on the agency to reinstate what had always been the last week of the season. This year the agency has agreed to the call again and the season will be five seeks long with the old last week reinstated.

Amid all of those discussions and maneuvers, the Legislature authorized statewide Sunday hunting which effectively has added five additional days into the hunting season as well. It will be a full 35 day season for West Virginia hunters to enjoy.

Mike Peters game bird biologist for the West Virginia Davison of Natural Resources said because of this year’s nuance, he’s not sure what to expect. Normally, hunters take two year old gobblers. So Mike usually will check and see how many two year old turkeys there might be available.

“I go back two years and I look at brood production reports and if you look two years back the production was on the low side. It was around 32 percent lower than 2018’s brood production. If I just looked at that, I would say our harvest is going to be down from last year,” he explained.

But, then there’s the fifth week to factor into the equation. Peters thinks it will be a very productive week for hunters.

“It’s another week of opportunity for hunters, so in the grand scheme of things I think it will equal out and because of that I think the harvest will be similar to last year,” Peters said.

The five week season will offer a considerable change in the hunting dynamics. The landscape will go from nearly barren to full foliage. The temperatures will go from some snow and frost to consistently in the 80’s or more. The birds will go through a complete metamorphosis.

Kent Hall, a lifelong hunter who has created a reputation for knowing how turkeys tick thinks the first week may see us in some cases putting the cart before the horse.

“Always keep in mind that dominance has to be established. Dominance overrules the desire to breed. That dominance has to occur before any breeding takes place. That’s what’s happening right now,” he explained in a conversation on West Virginia Outdoors.

Hall said he treats every day like opening day, but noted early on hunters will find a lot of hens still flocked together and not interested in breeding and gobblers will probably be fighting and working to establish the dominance he explained.

During the 2020 spring gobbler season, hunters killed 11,314 birds during the four week season. Many will be watching to see how the five week season stacks up in comparison. Although the season was extended by a week, afternoon hunting is still prohibited in West Virginia. During his presentation to the Natural Resources Commission earlier this year, Game Management Supervisor Gary Foster noted there was still some reservation about opening up full day hunting until data can be established to prove the extra week isn’t negatively impacting the state’s turkey numbers.

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DHHR: Daily vaccinations leveling off in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Health and Human Resources added 446 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the state’s totals Saturday along with three COVID-related deaths.

The deaths include a 91-year old male from Raleigh County, an 81-year old male from Wood County, and an 87-year old female from Hampshire County.

“We must use all of the tools in our toolbox to stop the spread of COVID-19,” state DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said. “This includes vaccination, testing, mask wearing, social distancing, and good hygiene. Our deepest sympathy is extended to these families for their profound loss.”

Doses of vaccine being administered in West Virginia have dropped off in recent days. Nearly 500,000 state residents have been fully vaccinated but now only 85% of the vaccine being delivered to the state is being used. Daily vaccinations are hovering around the 3,200 mark. Those numbers were closer to 9,600 doses a day 10 days ago.

There are now 7,317 active COVID-19 cases in the state with 232 people hospitalized including 60 patients being treated in ICU. There have been 2,780 deaths in West Virginia since the pandemic began.

.@WV_DHHR reports as of April 17, 2021, there have been 2,602,762 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 148,517 total cases and 2,780 total deaths.

— WV Department of Health & Human Resources • 😷 (@WV_DHHR) April 17, 2021

Overall confirmed cases include: Barbour (1,344), Berkeley (11,541), Boone (1,867), Braxton (861), Brooke (2,118), Cabell (8,606), Calhoun (271), Clay (453), Doddridge (545), Fayette (3,253), Gilmer (734), Grant (1,240), Greenbrier (2,607), Hampshire (1,702), Hancock (2,705), Hardy (1,434), Harrison (5,391), Jackson (1,906), Jefferson (4,327), Kanawha (14,027), Lewis (1,137), Lincoln (1,396), Logan (3,001), Marion (4,135), Marshall (3,269), Mason (1,932), McDowell (1,478), Mercer (4,557), Mineral (2,760), Mingo (2,416), Monongalia (8,940), Monroe (1,067), Morgan (1,086), Nicholas (1,499), Ohio (4,030), Pendleton (686), Pleasants (830), Pocahontas (640), Preston (2,805), Putnam (4,806), Raleigh (6,105), Randolph (2,493), Ritchie (658), Roane (579), Summers (756), Taylor (1,197), Tucker (523), Tyler (670), Upshur (1,816), Wayne (2,815), Webster (455), Wetzel (1,188), Wirt (380), Wood (7,573), Wyoming (1,907).

The DHHR is also promoting testing sites for Saturday and Sunday.

Free pop-up COVID-19 testing is available Saturday in Boone, Clay, Jefferson, Lewis, Nicholas, and Putnam counties and tomorrow in Boone, Doddridge, and Nicholas counties:

April 17

Boone County

1:00 PM– 4:00 PM, Boone County Health Department, 213 Kenmore Dr., Danville, WV (pre-registration:

Clay County

8:00 AM – 10:30 AM, Maysel Park, County Route 13/4, Maysel, WV

Jefferson County

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Hollywood Casino, 750 Hollywood Drive, Charles Town, WV

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Shepherd University Wellness Center Parking Lot, 164 University Drive, Shepherdstown, WV

Lewis County

12:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Stonewall Jackson Home Oxygen Therapy, 456 Market Place, Suite A, Weston, WV

Nicholas County

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 18001 West Webster Road, Craigsville, WV (pre-registration:

Putnam County

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Liberty Square, 613 Putnam Village, Hurricane, WV (pre-registration:


April 18

Boone County

1:00 PM– 4:00 PM, Boone County Health Department, 213 Kenmore Dr., Danville, WV (pre-registration:

Doddridge County

10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Doddridge County Park, 1252 Snowbird Road, West Union, WV

Nicholas County

11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Richwood City Hall, 6 White Avenue, Richwood, WV (pre-registration:

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Court appearance set in Morgantown shooting case

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for the man accused in a recent Morgantown shooting.

Justin Lamar

Justin Lamar, 19, faces one count of malicious wounding after shooting another man in the shoulder in the parking of the Domino’s Pizza on Pleasant Street. The victim is expected to make a full recovery.

The hearing for Lamar will at the Monongalia County Justice Center Monday, April 26 at 11 a.m.

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Marsh: Rise in variants ‘call to arms’ in getting vaccinated

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh is among the West Virginia officials urging people to get vaccinated for the coronavirus amid concerns about a gap in demand and variant strains.

Marsh said during Friday’s coronavirus briefing it is important for people to get vaccinated as vaccines are effective tools in preventing people from getting the virus.

“As we look at the impact of these vaccines in real-world situations, we know these vaccines are incredibly effective and incredibly safe,” he said.

Dr. Clay Marsh (File)

Gov. Jim Justice and others spoke Friday about the importance of receiving vaccination doses, with state Interagency Task Force Director James Hoyer noting the supply of vaccines in West Virginia is outpacing the public demand. West Virginia also lags behind the national average regarding doses used.

Marsh also warned of a rise in variants; state officials have identified the first case of the Brazilian variant in Berkeley County. Marsh also noted Friday two cases of the South African strain, 365 cases of the United Kingdom variant and 174 cases of the California variant.

“That is not to scare West Virginians, but it is a call to arms,” he added.

“We know that our strongest age group of spread is our 10-to-19, young West Virginians. We really want to call on families, on parents, on young people to get vaccinated. Please choose to get vaccinated. It will allow you to safely play sports and have your activities. If someone on your sports team gets infected, then people who are fully vaccinated don’t have to quarantine.”

The Greenbrier East High School girls’ basketball team, which the governor coaches, has paused activities after one positive case. Justice said Friday none of the players are vaccinated.

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Is it RCB’s time in Class AAA? (playoff preview)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Greg Carey and Joe Brocato discuss the upcoming Class AAA boys basketball playoffs. Sectional play continues through next weekend around the state.

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High School Basketball Roundup (Week 8/April 17)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Listen to the eighth edition of ‘High School Basketball Roundup‘, which aired on the MetroNews Radio Network Saturday morning.

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Woman killed in 2-car crash in Marshall County

McMECHEN, W.Va. — A woman was died in a two-vehicle crash Friday evening in Marshall County.

Police said the wreck happened in the northbound lanes of state Route 2 near McMechen at about 5:30 p.m.

Reports indicate the victim was a McMechen resident.

No word yet on what caused the crash.

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WVU Police confirm student’s death following University Place incident

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University Police confirmed the death of a student on Friday.

Police identified the student as Benjamin Pravecek, a 20-year-old business major from Harpers Ferry.

Officers arrived at University Place after 12:30 p.m. after a report that a person fell or jumped from a parking garage. An investigation remains underway, but the department does not believe foul play was involved.

“We are grieving today,” Dean of Students Corey Farris said. “This tragedy reminds us how important the love, care and compassion we share with others can be. We have been in touch with Benjamin’s family and friends to offer our support during this difficult time, and we will continue to provide whatever resources and help are necessary.”

The Carruth Center is offering individual counseling as well as support at 304-293-4431. Students may also text WVU to 741-741 to contact the Crisis Text Line. Faculty and staff may seek support through the Employee Assistance Program.

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North Marion rallies past Weir to secure sectional title

(Photos and highlights by Teran Malone)

RACHEL, W.Va. — North Marion defeated Weir, 64-54 in the Class AAA, Region I, Section 1 championship game. The Huskies (12-0) will host Keyser Tuesday in the regional co-final round.

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WVU defensive lineman Darius Stills garners Hardman Award

— by Sean Manning, The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Darius Stills was close to voiding his amateur status a year ago, following a strong junior season that had NFL scouts taking notice.

Instead, he decided to return to WVU for one more year, and in the process, claimed several All-America honors — West Virginia University’s first Consensus All American since 2006. Stills also kept professional teams more than interested.

Stills manned the center of the Mountaineers’ defensive line at nose tackle, helping WVU finish the 2020 campaign with a top 5 defense nationally.

For his efforts, Stills was named the 2020-21 recipient of the Hardman Award, as voted by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

The Hardman Award, given to the state’s top amateur athlete, is named for the late A. L. (Shorty) Hardman, who served as sports editor (1936-60) and executive sports editor (1960-78) of the Charleston Gazette. The award is the oldest given by the Association and dates back to 1934. A complete list of honorees may be found on the website. Stills will be recognized at the 74th annual Victory Awards Dinner on May 23 at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.

He is the first WVU football player to win the award since Tavon Austin claimed it in 2012.

“It’s an honor to win this award, especially being from West Virginia,” Stills said. “It means a lot to me to be able to represent West Virginia in the right way.

“Now, it’s time to represent West Virginia at the next level.”

Stills, a native of Fairmont and 2017 graduate of Fairmont Senior, was a two-year starter for the Mountaineers. This season, he finished with 7 1/2 tackles for loss, 3 1/2 sacks and an interception. For his career, Stills had 84 tackles. 25 1/2 tackles for loss and 11 1/2 sacks.

While Stills’ numbers were down this year compared to years past, WVU head coach Neal Brown said the biggest reason is Stills bought into what the team needed and became more natural as a nose tackle, and the national media took notice.

“This is a proud moment for Darius, his family and the WVU football program,” Brown said. “He is very deserving of Consensus All-America honors. He has been a great representative of the Mountaineers football program on and off the field, the university, and the state. We are proud of Darius and what he has meant to this program, especially that he will leaving WVU with his degree.”

In winning the award, Stills edged out West Liberty wrestler Cole Laya and University of Charleston women’s basketball player Brooklyn Pannell.

Laya, like Stills, is a Fairmont native, but attended East Fairmont. This year, Laya won a Division II national championship in the 125-pound weight class with a 12-2 major decision in the finals. Laya went 18-1 this season, won conference, regional and national titles, and was named the Mountain East Conference Wrestler of the Year.

Pannell was a Division II All-American after averaging 23.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2,2 assists and 2.2 steals per game. She was also named the MEC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year.

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