Preliminary counts of game checking tags indicate West Virginia hunters killed 131,444 white-tailed deer during the recently completed bucks-only, antlerless, muzzleloader, archery and youth/Class Q/Class XS deer seasons, according to Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro.
This year’s total harvest was three 3 percent below the 2011 deer harvest of 135,696. A total of 56,658 bucks, 45,169 antlerless season deer, 24,571 bow-killed deer and 5,046 muzzleloader season deer were taken during the 2012 season.
Antlerless Deer Season
The 2012 antlerless deer season, which includes the youth/Class Q/Class XS deer season, was 12 percent above 2011 and one and one-half percent below the five-year average of 45,845.
“It is important to note that the antlerless harvest is the key component to any deer management strategy, as it controls the future deer population,” Jezioro said. “Many counties had liberalized antlerless hunting seasons in 2012, including 10 counties that required hunters to harvest an antlerless deer before harvesting a second buck with a gun or bow, and a new October antlerless firearms season in all open counties.
“These modifications to the antlerless season structure led to an increase in the harvest and will ensure that deer populations do not exceed management objectives.”
The top 10 counties are: Preston (2,343), Mason (2,026), Jackson (1,759), Wood (1,608), Lewis (1,575), Upshur (1,569), Harrison (1,511), Ritchie (1,391), Monongalia (1,340) and Randolph (1,325).
Muzzleloader Deer Season
The 2012 muzzleloader harvest of 5,046 was 36 percent less than the 2011 harvest of 7,873 and was 37 percent below the five-year average of 7,969.
“A change in season dates and an above-average acorn crop contributed to the decline in the muzzleloader harvest,” Jezioro said.
The top 10 counties are: Preston (237), Randolph (230), Nicholas (219), Braxton (216), Webster (203), Jackson (173), Fayette (170), Upshur (160), Lewis (157) and Mason (147).
Archery Deer Season
The bow hunters’ take of 24,571 deer was 10 percent below the 2011 harvest of 27,404, 10 percent below the five-year average harvest of 27,339. Archery harvests are directly correlated to hard mast crops, and the above average acorn crop was the primary factor for the lower harvest in 2012.
The top 10 counties are: Preston (1,089), Kanawha (863), Raleigh (796), Randolph (791), Monongalia (769), Wyoming (765), Logan (739), Greenbrier (727), Fayette (707) and Nicholas (693).