West Virginia Hunter Safety Course


Wildlife Identification

In order to determine if a shot is legal and ethical, you must first be able to properly identify the animal. Wildlife identification is a necessary skill for all hunters. Before heading out for a hunt, you should not only study up on the animal you are hunting, but also on the other animals you might encounter. Hunters will learn various ways to identify game. In some cases, it is necessary to identify the sex and approximate age of the animal, before determining if the shot is legal to take. Hunters rely on tracks, habitat, geographical distribution, group behaviour, and colors and/or markings on the animal's fur or feathers in order to properly identify the animal.

Big Game (large mammals)

Big game animals include animals such as deer, moose, elk, bear, sheep, mountain lions and wolves. These large mammals will usually bear young once a year, or in rare cases once every few years. They are found in various habitats, but always in wild or semi-rural areas. It can be difficult to distinguish males from females, though in most cases females will be a little smaller than the males.

Most states will have very specific regulations on hunting big game, including different seasons for the methods in which you are allowed to harvest the game. Always consult local regulations well in advance of the hunting season to find out about limits, dates, firearm restrictions, tagging and transporting requirements, etc.