DEER SEASON 2010: Forecast for Lower Kill

The 2010 two-week buck season starts Monday across the state of West Virginia.  The number of deer killed in the two week season is expected to be lower than 2009 numbers.

Gary Foster, Game Management Supervisor at the West Virginia DNR, says the total number of deer killed will be largely dependent on the weather in the first three days.

"It’s always hard to say because it’s so weather dependent," Foster said. "But if we have pretty good weather Monday through Wednesday, I would predict the harvest would be down somewhat."

Foster bases his prediction on two key factors.  West Virginia experienced an extremely poor mast year in 2009 followed by a severe winter.  He says that has impacted deer numbers in some parts of the state.

"We definitely had some winter mortality," he said. "I think that’s going to affect the harvest in certain counties at least."

History would suppot Foster’s theory.   During the 2003-04 winter and the 1993 winter there were harsh conditions which followed an extremey poor mast year.   Both of those years saw significantly fewer deer killed overall in the following fall.

Aside from starvation, the other factor is poor nutrition likely led to a decrease in reproduction.   It’s reasonable to believe a lot of does never became healthy enough to breed in some parts of the state and didn’t have fawns over the past year.   That will be a negative on deer numbers.

"It probably won’t affect the buck season like it would an antlerless season," said Foster. "But I think we’ll have a good buck season if the weather hangs in there."

Long-range forecasts call for fairly mild conditions for the beginning of the season when the bulk of deer hunters are in the woods.  The DNR says 80-percent of the deer killed in the two week season are taken in the first three days of hunting.


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