Listen Now: Morning News

DEER SEASON 2010: A Family Tradition

It generally starts with clearing away brush and debris from a level spot.   Soon, it’s a group effort to pitch a massive tent which sleeps ten.   Other times you’ll see two or three campers pulled together in a group and their doors linked with a canopy of blue or brown tarps.  

Eventually, firewood is stacked high by the door of whatever dwelling is selected.   Coolers and propane tanks sit on the exterior.   The low hum of a generator may pierce the otherwise silence of the backwoods solitude.  A flickering fire, the scent of wood smoke and frying bacon, and the chill of a north wind carrying a hint of snow.  

Those are images most of us have grown accustom to when it comes to deer season.   The two-week buck season in West Virginia is almost a religious experience.  It’s not an officially declared holiday–but no government agency endorsement could add any more significance to the observance of such an anticipated annual event. 

"It’s a very strong, deep heritage that gets passed down from generation to generation," said Gary Foster of the West Virginia DNR. "There sure are a lot of folks that live for that Monday morning on opening day.  That’s a special time."

It’s special because it’s traditional.   Most hunters can recall their first trips to deer camp as a youngster.   Many have reassembled at the same spot on the same weekend every year of their lives for the tradition.  Mines close, factories idle, construction jobs come to a halt, and schools struggle with low attendance both from students and teachers.  It’s not uncommon to see three and sometimes four generations of a family of hunters in camp on opening day.

The DNR estimates between 250 and 300 thousand hunters participate in the two week buck season.  Comparatively the percentage that kills deer is far fewer.  But killing a deer can at times become a secondary event to just being there.

"A lot of national surveys indicate nationwide big game hunting has actually stayed up pretty well in terms of license sales," said Foster.  "Where you really notice the difference is the decline in small game hunters over the last 10 to 15-years."

We live in a world where computers, video-games, and organized sports dominate the lives of children.   They’re being raised by a generation of non-hunting parents, who may not have been taught to hunt or hunted early in life, but because of an increasingly packed lifestyle had to give it up.   Other youngsters aren’t being extended the tradition perhaps because of the increasingly high number of single parent households where the mother generally isn’t as interested in passing on the hunting heritage.

West Virginia hasn’t seen the decline in numbers as steeply as most states, but the numbers have decreased nonetheless even in the rural Mountain State.  Still it doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm of those who may only get to hunt once a year–and that one time is the first week of buck season.

"Buck season has remained strong," Foster said. "A lot of hunters are very interested in that season, absolutely."


More Outdoors

W.Va. anglers qualify to advance in BASS event
For a fourth year in a row a West Virginian wins either the boater or non-boater top spot at the organization's regional championship event
June 6, 2023 - 1:58 pm
DNR Police ready for start of boating weekend
Memorial Day weekend typically kicks off the pleasure boating season, officers will be looking for break downs and violations on the waters of the Mountain State.
May 25, 2023 - 2:29 pm
Hunting is a family affair for the Shell family in Wyoming County
Buford and Lena Shell and their 11 year old son Levi all tag out during the spring gobbler season, for the second time in three years.
May 22, 2023 - 2:34 pm
Smallmouth hunting on Lake Erie
Just a few hours drive north of West Virginia, Lake Erie can be a smallmouth bass fishing paradise during the spring months
May 19, 2023 - 5:34 am

Your Comments