Bill takes effect allowing Sunday hunting, noodling in West Virginia

Photo: Shannon Patrick | from Okie Noodling : Documentary by Bradley Beesley
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WHSV) — As of June 4, it is legal to hunt on public lands on Sunday for the first time ever in West Virginia.

That's one of a range of changes to West Virginia's state laws on hunting and fishing that lawmakers approved earlier this year.

In March, Governor Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 451, which made several changes to existing West Virginia hunting laws. The bill was set to take effect 90 days from that approval, which fell on June 4.

The bill, which passed the Senate by a unanimous 33-1 vote and the House by an 87-8 vote, came less than a year after Senate Bill 345 was enacted to legalize Sunday hunting on private land with written permission.

Senate Bill 451, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, will open more than 1.5 million acres of public land to Sunday hunting and provide several additional hunting days each year.

They say that will make West Virginia more attractive to out-of-state hunters.

“People drive right through West Virginia to Ohio or wherever it may be to be able to hunt on Sunday,” Gov. Justice said. “We lose those dollars because they want to be able to hunt an entire weekend. This will provide additional hunting recreation for our visitors and residents and result in a major economic impact for our small rural businesses. Today is truly historical.”

In addition to allowing Sunday hunting, the bill prohibits the use of drones to wound, harass or transport wildlife; creates a misdemeanor for catching or attempting to catch any fish within 200 feet of someone stocking fish in public waters; requires crossbows and bows to be in cases when in motor vehicles; prohibits nocked bows from vehicles; and permits, for the first time, noodling in West Virginia.

Noodling – or the practice of catching catfish with your bare hands – has long been a popular past-time in parts of West Virginia, but has technically been illegal in the Mountain State.

You can learn more about the new changes at wvdnr.gov .