If you’re not worn out and your freezer isn’t full from two weeks of buck hunting, and more than a month of bow hunting, hunters in West Virginia have plenty more opportunities in the coming days.    The regular antlerless deer season opens Monday across the state of West Virginia.    Although it’s another deer hunting opportunity for sportsmen, it’s a far more critical matter to the West Virginia DNR.

"The only way that deer populations are controlled is through the antlerless harvest," said DNR Biologist Jim Crum. "Female segment is the most important part of our harvest management plan."

The plan is complex and varies in many cases from county to county and in some cases differs in parts of counties.  Some are closed altogether while others have extremely liberal bag limits on the numbers of does you can shoot.      Crum says it’s the time of year that he and his colleagues engage in what is often a delicate balancing act of what is biologically sound to what is socially acceptable.

"That’s the tough part, because everybody’s got a different impression of the amount of deer that are acceptable," said Crum. "To a hunter during hunting season if they don’t see a deer every five minutes then the deer population is not high enough.   To a farmer in the summertime watching deer on his pasture or in a garden, one deer is too many."

The DNR examines data annually to set the season dates, bag limits, and the areas where pressure needs to be exerted or lessened to try and find the proper balance of how many deer a habitat will carry and how many people want to have there to start with. 

In a large number of West Virginia counties, hunters have been extended the opportunities to kill does during the entire two weeks of the buck hunting season, provided they have proper antlerless permits.   The concurring season is open on private land only.  The DNR says private property is their biggest challenge.    Often, antlerless deer are safe in those private tracts for a number of reasons.    Hunting pressure drops off significantly in during the antlerless season and in many cases those who hunt private property are simply looking for a buck.

"A lot of people still don’t like killing a female deer.  They just do not think that’s something they should do," said Crum who has spent half his career trying to change long-standing mindsets about doe hunting. "They don’t realize that’s the most important thing they can do to have more deer and to have healthier deer." 

 

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