ELKINS, W.Va. — State wildlife officials hope West Virginia hunters will be more inclined to kill a doe during this year’s early antlerless season. For a second year, the Natural Resources Commission split the six day antlerless season into two separate weekends. The first is this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, October 24-26 on private land.
“Looks like the cold front moved through and the temperatures are going to be good,” said Gary Foster, Game Management Supervisor for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “I think last year the October season caught some hunters off guard and they were not aware of it. Hopefully over the past year, people have gotten a little more familiar with it.”
Foster said the idea of splitting up the season was to increase the numbers of deer taken. The traditional antlerless season until 2012 was the week which followed the traditional two week buck season. Statistics revealed most of the deer killed during that week happened in the later days.
“When we looked at the harvest information, it was obvious the harvest on that Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday was very low,” Foster said. “In 2011 we harvested only about 1,500 deer on those first three days.”
The change improved the numbers drastically as hunters killed just over 4,000 deer during the three day season in its inaugural year. Foster and game management officials hope that trend will continue upward for 2013.
“We still have too many deer in a lot counties, not everywhere, but in some counties we’re still above our biological harvest objective,” he said. “We’re still trying to come up with tweaks to regulations to increase that harvest.”
Another tweak to this year’s season is an allowance for two deer to be killed in a single day, as long as one of those is a doe. Unlike in years past when the multi-deer bag limit was allowed you don’t have to check in one before killing the other.
Foster said the change was a result of hunters’ requests in surveys done around the state at their spring meetings for several years.
“The vast majority of hunters have a very limited amount of time to get off work,” he said. “It was something we had heard for years and a lot of hunters were asking for.”
One difference between the three day season in December and the three day season in October is the October season is on private land only. State biologists believe it will allow more deer to be taken from private tracts which don’t get the same hunting pressure as public hunting areas.
“We’re trying to focus harvest on private lands, that’s part of it,” Foster said. “But also on a lot of public and state forests you have a lot of other people in the woods with peak leaf color. It was as much an effort to reduce conflicts among various user groups at this time of year.”
Hunters who kill an antlerless deer during the three day season will qualify to kill a second buck if they are hunting in one of the 23 counties where bagging a doe is the qualifier for a second buck.