Hunters and anglers celebrated their love for the outdoors at the capitol Tuesday as West Virginia officials recognized the winners of a 2020 hunting and fishing license contest.
While presenting the awards, Governor Jim Justice, an avid outdoorsman himself, spoke with enthusiasm about his administration's success bolstering the industry, attracting resident and non-resident participants alike.
“As a lifelong hunter and angler, I want to thank our Tourism Office and Division of Natural Resources for all the goodness and all the opportunities they're bringing through their efforts,” Justice said.
Joseph Gill, of Beckley, who was among 13 winners of the state license promotion, spoke proudly of the long traditions of hunting and fishing passed down through his family.
"My father and my grandfather were hunters, and now my wife's hunting, and I'm teaching our son, who was the first in our family to take a black bear," Gill said.
The hunting and fishing promotion required applicants who were West Virginia residents to purchase a 2020 Sportsman or Junior Sportsman license in December, from which 13 prize-winners were randomly selected from a list of more than 10,000 eligible entrants.
The governor said he thought the license contest achieved its goal of promoting the outdoor experience.
“This contest has been an incredible opportunity to get West Virginians everywhere excited about enjoying our woods and streams. We all know there is no better place in the world to enjoy the outdoors than right here in Almost Heaven,” Justice said.
Prize winners and their prizes, which also included a gift bag from the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, were:
- Christopher Davisson, of Fairmont, won a Lifetime Sportsman Hunting, Trapping and Fishing License
- Justin Thaxton, of Charleston, won a two-night stay at Tygart Lake State Park.
- Shannon Brown, of Craigsville, won two sled-run tickets with overnight lodge room at Blackwater Falls State Park.
- Dustin Rexrode, of Durbin, won two zipline tour tickets with overnight lodge room at Pipestem Resort State Park.
- Steven Albright, of Ona, won a two-night stay at a Kumbrabow State Forest cabin.
- Tammy Collins, of Ona, won a two-night stay lodging at Hawks Nest State Park.
- Larry Powell, of Glenwood, won a two-night stay at North Bend State Park.
- Mark Robinson, of Brandywine, won a two-night stay at a Babcock State Park cabin.
- William Hamilton, of Bridgeport, won a two-night stay at Cacapon Resort State Park.
- Roland Albright, of Branchland, won a two-night stay at a Holly River State Park cabin.
- Joseph Gill, of Beckley, won a two-night stay at a Lost River State Park cabin.
- Robert Flinner, of Charleston, won a two-night stay at a Greenbrier State Forest cabin.
- Lillian Faulkiner, of Shinnston, won a tour of the mansion at Blennerhassett Island Historical Park, passage on the Island Belle Sternwheeler, and admission to the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History.
Stephen McDaniel, director of the state Division of Natural Resources, thanked all those who have been so supportive of the traditions of hunting and fishing.
“I just want to thank all the sportsmen and women who participated in this promotion by buying a license for themselves or a family member,” McDaniel said.
“There’s no doubt that West Virginians are passionate about hunting and fishing and we hope this is only the start of the next generation taking up a lifetime of enjoying the outdoors.”
Justice also announced that for 2019, hunting and fishing license sales were up 50 percent and pre-sales doubled from the previous year.
After six straight years of declines, 2019 also saw the first increase in hunting and fishing license sales, selling more than 73,000 licenses to those who didn’t have one the previous year.