By Stephen Smoot
Last Friday, Governor Jim Justice announced the opening of the fourth year of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources lifetime license giveaway. He also reminded hunters, photographers, and others about the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources’ Big Buck Photo Contest, also running through this month.
During the past year, the Governor has pledged millions to continue to expand tourism in the state. These contests and other events help to continue the momentum while encouraging more to get outside and enjoy state attractions.
Justice said, “There’s a lot of good things happening in West Virginia and so much to be thankful for as we enter the holiday season.” He added, “I want to encourage all West Virginians and all those who come to our state to get their 2023 license early so they’ll be entered to win some great prizes.”
According to Elizabeth Scott, executive director of the Pendleton County Chamber of Commerce, these contests “help local businesses, like Pendleton County Outdoors and Trails End Outfitters with more businesses to shop their vast inventory.”
West Virginia residents can enter the drawing by purchasing a Class A, Class B, Class AH, Class XP, Class XP3, Class XJ, or Class AHJ license. Non-residents can participate by purchasing a Class E, Class EE, Class AAH, Class XXJ, or Class AAHJ license. Anyone may purchase a license through an authorized license agent, over the phone at (304) 558-2758, or online at WVhunt.com.
Residents can win a grand prize of a resident combination hunting, trapping, and fishing lifetime license, one of four $200 West Virginia State Parks gift cards, or one of eight gift bags filled with WVDNR merchandise.
Non-residents can win a grand prize of two zipline tour tickets and a three-night lodge stay at Pipestem State Park. First place prizes, of which there are four, will send winners to two-night stays in one of four state park resorts. Non-residents can also win one of eight gift bags as well.
Photographers with valid 2022 West Virginia Hunting Licenses can join the fun by submitting to the Big Buck Photo Contest. The WVDNR website explains that the contest is “perfect for anyone who enjoys the sport of hunting and sharing the memories made along the way.”
The contest requests that submissions include both the harvested buck and the hunter who killed him. Rules also specify that submissions made to WVDNR must include the 13-digit DNR game check number for the buck pictured. In the youth division, a submission could earn a free lifetime state hunting and fishing license. Adults can win a free lifetime hunting license, a two-night stay in a Cabwaylingo State Forest cabin, or a two-night stay in a Seneca State Forest cabin.
Scott adds that Pendleton County provides the perfect atmosphere for those buying outdoor sporting licenses, saying the area “is ideal for outdoor sports such as hunting and fishing, due to the many well-stocked streams and rivers that run through our county, as well as public access to hunt in Monongahela and George Washington National Forests.”
Also, even though winter has just started to settle in, special events like Trout Fest in May are just around the corner.
With Christmas approaching, the WVDNR suggests that annual licenses make great gifts. Gift licenses can be purchased by calling (304) 558-2758. If the recipient has held a license previously, only name and date of birth are required. For a brand new license, other information will be requested.
The WVDNR will announce the winners of the contest on their website.