Preliminary data collected from game checking stations across the state indicate deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 56,173 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, which ran Nov. 19 to Dec. 1.
The top 10 counties for buck harvest were as follows: Preston (2,108), Greenbrier (1,907), Randolph (1,792), Mason (1,667), Jackson (1,662), Hampshire (1,570), Monroe (1,563), Ritchie (1,518), Wetzel (1,496) and Hardy (1,435).
This year’s buck harvest is slightly less than last year, with decreases occurring in four of the six DNR districts. The largest percent decreases occurred in the western and central counties of the state. The harvest was 27th among all recorded antlered buck firearm seasons. This year’s preliminary buck harvest remains seven percent below the previous five-year average of 60,236.
Wildlife biologists and wildlife managers collected age-specific biological information at checking stations in 24 counties this year and preliminary analysis indicate antler development was good. The dry weather was good for hunter participation this year but made moving in the woods noisy.
Deer densities that were more in balance with the habitat in many areas, combined with the better-than-average acorn crop that allowed deer to frequent open fields less frequently, made this year’s deer season challenging for many hunters. Residual access problems associated with Hurricane Sandy, such as downed trees blocking forest roads, may have hindered the ability of some buck hunters to reach their favorite hunting spots, especially in some of the high mountain counties.
Wildlife biologists will analyze data from the combined 2012 deer seasons (i.e., buck, antlerless, archery and muzzleloader) before making appropriate recommendations for next year’s deer hunting seasons. These recommendations will be available for public review at 12 regulations meetings scheduled for March 18-19, 2013. Meeting locations may be found at www.wvdnr.gov
Several days of deer hunting opportunity still remain for 2012. The traditional antlerless deer season in selected counties on public and private land is Dec. 13-15. The Youth, Class Q/QQ and Class XS deer season (antlerless deer only) will be open Dec. 26-27 in any county with a firearms deer season, and will be followed by the reopening of Class N/NN antlerless deer season Dec. 28-31 in 48 counties or portions of counties.