Early Deer Hunt Likely to Continue in 2010


West Virginia hunters collected just over three-thousand deer during the inaugural early archery and muzzleloading season last fall.     The DNR’s breakdown finds 1,017 deer were killed during the early archery season from September 14-19 and 2,125 deer were taken in the muzzleloader season which ran the following week, September 21-26.

"Those numbers while they may not be as high as we would have like to seen, we need to put it into perspective," said DNR Game Management Chief Paul Johansen. "It was two brand new seasons for us.  I’m not disappointed."

2009 marked the first year of the special antlerless season designed to get hunters into the woods with earlier opportunities, particularly muzzleloader hunters.    The smoke-pole aficionados have long clamored for an early season.    Although, there were complaints that the season was too early, forcing hunters to take down deer when temperatures neared 80-degrees.

"If there’s one thing about West Virginia hunters they tend to be very adaptable," said Johansen.  "If the hunters are prepared and can bring some ice with them and cool the carcass very quickly, they’ll be able to maintain the quality of the meat."

Johansen says the early seasons will again be part of the recommended hunting season package they present to members of the state’s Natural Resources Commission this spring.    He says there’s really no reason they have found to not have it again.

"There are no biological negatives to it," said Johansen. "There are in fact some biological positives.  It does target antlerless deer and we certainly need to be removing females from some of our counties."

Beyond the biological impact, Johansen says the season also fits with the mission of the DNR to provide quality hunting opportunities to sportsmen of the state.

"That’s partly the name of the game for the DNR," Johansen said. "We’re out there trying to provide additional days of recreation and I think this early season structure does just that."

The Natural Resources Commission will have the final say on the matter.  They’ll vote on the recommendation in April after the proposed season dates and bag limits have been put before the public during the March sectional meetings.


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