SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hunters killed 45,871 bucks during the recently completed two week traditional buck hunting season in West Virginia. The figure is around the level officials with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources anticipated it would be.
“Last year was much higher at 60,000 and that was primarily because of a poor acorn crop,” said Chris Ryan, Supervisor of Game Management Services for the Division of Natural Resources. “But two years ago the number was 37,000, so it’s in the middle.”
Mast conditions across the state going into the season were mixed and hunters who found acorns also found an abundance of deer. Those who hunted in areas where the acorns didn’t hit were probably disappointed. The weather was a factor in some of the northern counties of West Virginia and the high mountains.
“We had extremely high winds across the state, especially in the northern counties and the mountains, during the first couple of days,” said Ryan. “So that’s going to impact deer movement, but the primary factor was just having more acorns so deer could eat and be spread across the landscape even further.”
The numbers suggest to DNR biologists the deer population is about where it needs to be in comparison to the carrying capacity of the state’s deer habitat.
“A lot of the counties are pretty close to their management objective,” Ryan said. “It’s very close to where we predicted it to be in the hunting outlook.”
Social media sites have shown another banner year for big bucks in West Virginia. Although anecdotal, the number of big bucks being shown off on websites appears to have continued to grow in 2016. Ryan said the success for hunters in killing bigger bucks is a result of two factors.
“It’s not just the southern part of the state anymore. It’s Richie County, Doddridge County, Marshall County, and Upshur County. Those large, mature bucks are really starting to show up around the state,” Ryan explained. “It demonstrates the diverse age class where there are a lot of older age class deer spread around the state. One reason is the concurrent antlerless season and the other is hunters being more selective and passing up on younger deer.”
The top 10 counties for buck harvest were: Preston (1,769), Randolph (1,610), Jackson (1,482), Greenbrier (1,445), Ritchie (1,414), Upshur (1,392), Mason (1,266), Lewis (1,238), Hampshire (1,183) and Wood (1,182).
|West Virginia Buck Firearms Season Harvest, 2012-2016|
|Dist. 1 Subtotal||12,412||11,199||7,961||11,219||9,247|
|Dist. 2 Subtotal||8,716||8,995||5,812||9,677||6,799|
|Dist. 3 Subtotal||9,562||9,020||7,050||10,878||8,630|
|Dist. 4 Subtotal||6,948||5,898||4,666||7,229||5,351|
|Dist. 5 Subtotal||8,039||7,567||4,485||7,933||6,207|
|Dist. 6 Subtotal||10,706||13,844||7,476||13,878||9,637|