Looking through the West Virginia Natural Resources Game Regulations there does not appear to be a limit on how many farm gates you can harvest with a crossbow.
There’s nothing about size, whether an 8-foot one is too small, or style, whether it is a bar gate or a panel gate, or color, whether it is green, blue or the ever-popular red. Maybe they are protected by Federal Migratory Bird Regs.
My friend Bill harvested one with his crossbow. I know he wears glasses but maybe he needs his eyes checked or maybe harvesting a farm gate was on his bucket list. Either way he is going to have to target the gate hinges if he expects to drop one.
Several years ago a young man in the lower part of the state harvested what he thought was the biggest deer to ever be killed in the state. He took it to the local check in station and stuck around for hours showing it off to every hunter who came in to check in their normal size deer. His harvest was definitely bigger than everyone else’s. It was so big that it was almost too big for the bed of his truck. The game warden showed up and arrested him, took possession of his truck, his gun, and his ELK.
West Virginia had recently introduced elk back into the state after them having left a couple of hundred years ago (maybe less, I don’t know). The young man’s dream of possessing a world record deer was dashed. Eventually all the charges were dropped after it was determined West Virginia had not upgraded their hunting regulations so there was no law against harvesting an elk.
A quick check of those same regs reveals none regarding snakes. I have, however, heard some snakes in the state are protected by some state statute. Since the Lackey Farm is a sovereign state (not sure what that legally means, but it is neat to finally find a sentence to use that word in) there are no harvest regs for snakes. We have harvested several copperheads over the years. Black snakes as well as any other non-venomous snakes are protected on this farm.
Sometimes it takes awhile to determine if it’s non-venomous or not. One hanging in a dimly lit cellar house or barn brushing against your shoulder can lead to determining its status through an autopsy. Or seeing your favorite beagle getting hit in the face multiple times by a copperhead can be a bad day for the copperhead. A year later, seeing your favorite beagle getting hit in the face again makes you start to question why God have us copperheads or why your favorite beagle can be so incredibly stupid.
For the 31 years of owning this farm, I have enjoyed catching black snakes and presenting to my lovely bride. It is neat to hear her scream and question my sanity. I then leave it somewhere around the house to reduce the field mouse population and to fend off the copperheads.
Yesterday, I threw a 5-foot racer at my lovely bride of 41 years. I had gone into the garage to retrieve something for her while she stood in the sun in the driveway. There it was laying in the garage floor amongst stuff, and I knew I needed it out of my garage right now. I grabbed it and threw it out the garage door as I yelled, “Watch Out!!” All she saw was her wonderful husband throwing a big black snake at her. Thank goodness somewhere between her and I that snake hit something and returned to the garage floor at my feet now pretty mad. Someone was smiling down at me since a mad snake at my feet is better than a really, really mad wife. I’ll take the mad snake all day long.
Last year, one black snake went too far. It cost us about $10,000 and finishing this story my lovely bride of 41 years will finally hear “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say.
Our farm house is 30-some years old. The previous owner built it and he installed the central air ductwork in the crawl space and some runs were on the ground. With time a section rusted through and allowed field mice to enter. We would be sitting together in the den only to see a mouse’s head pop up out a floor vent then scurry behind a couch. My lovely bride would start imploring for me to do something.
Growing up in South Carolina, I had heard tales of hunters attempting to get warm building a fire in one of those hunting cabins hand laid with creek rock fireplaces only to have numerous rattlesnakes emerge once the fire got roaring. I was here by myself and I had kicked the heat on to warm the house. As I sat eating and watching TV in the den, I noticed some movement at a floor vent. A mouse emerged, catapulting itself out of the vent and scurrying across the floor. Not far behind the mouse was a black snake slithering from the vent. I grabbed the snake and launched it out the back door. I knew this was going to cost me money if I wanted to still live here, and her not experience what I am sure has been portrayed in plenty of Hollywood horror movies.
All of the ductwork was removed, an entirely new system installed but this time with the ductwork neatly tucked up against the joists. Bright white Tyvek was spread across the crawl space dirt floor so I can see quickly while under there anything that should not be there.
The Bible says in Joshua, “As for me and my household, We will serve the Lord.” In the good husband manual, thou shalt not throw snakes at your wife or let her think she may step on one in the middle of the night while getting out of bed.
Richard Lackey can be reached at email@example.com.