Calhoun County, not unlike much of rural West Virginia,
once cleared and farmed, even the steepest hillsides,
is now returning to wilderness (Photo taken at Hur)
By Bob Weaver 2000
We ran to get the camera to take a picture of the turkeys in the front yard. Not unusual to see turkeys, but the past few weeks between 35-40 are in each flock on Hur Hill.
Local sportsman say its because of the drought. The spring rains did not kill the hatchlings, and they arrived in a world filled with locust meals.
Local reports say the population is at an all-time high. They're everywhere, like the deer.
Deer have been trampling all over the fields, yards and gardens this summer, a season that you generally don't spot as many. Hunters say the food supply in the woods is depleting and they're out in the fields foraging, and crossing the roads, much like rutting season later this fall.
Much of the unusual activity may be linked to the drought. There have been times that stream beds have completely dried up for several miles, and wildlife is forced to travel for a drink.
Then there is a rather new addition to our Calhoun landscape, the coyote. I spotted my first one dashing across the primitive road last October on Rattlesnake, between Joker and Little Creek Hill.
Two of the critters came out of Dennis Fork behind our house, to visit the MacDonalds down on Barnes Run last fall. They fed from the dog bowls, to be shot and killed.
Bunt Riggs from Hughes Fork and Wayne Riggs of Joker say they abound down on the Little Kanawha River near Bell's Ford and the mouth of Bee Creek. You can hear them howling from Wayne's deck late at night.
The black bear keep increasing. The preacher (Rev. Brad McBee) had one lumber across the road near Jake Kerby's house on his way to preaching at Hur. Tink Starcher saw one in her meadow and Dianne Weaver one on her well road.
Lexie Miller, before he passed, saw a "thirty foot bear" come out of his holler. Another local fella saw one up a tree out at Joker the other day. I've seen three or four while ridge runnin' around Husk and Rattlesnake. They wallered the grass into the mud under our favorite persimmon tree last fall.
There are plenty of rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, raccoons, fox and you name it. Living things are doing well this year, not to forget the occasional reporting of a ghostly mountain lion and the wandering Emus, who have entertained Calhoun folks this summer.
Just sittin' and watchin' is part of the quiet life here in the backwoods.
Update: Years have gone by since this article was written. It is good to report more of the same. The wildlife seems to be ever increasing, certainly the coyote and the bear.
We have seen at least three bear near our house in the past few years, but more often we hear them thrashing through the thick woods near the house.
As for the wandering Emu, they disappeared years ago, but you will find their earlier adventures under People, Humor and History.
As for the coyotes, they're continuing to make late night sounds in the hollow behind the house.
There's plenty of woods for animals to thrive in Sunny Cal with it being about 90% forested.
As a wander the county, I keep having an epiphany, like seeking the steep rugged hills and valleys for the first time, rediscovering its landscape.
It's a pretty awesome wilderness here in the 21st Century, a purity with the lack of development.