2011 Bow Season About to Come to Full Draw

Photo: Eddie Ferrari


Expect thousands of West Virginia hunters to be in a tree stand this weekend.  The 2011 Archery Season opens this Saturday. It’s possibly the earliest opening day in West Virginia history.

"This will be the longest archery season we’ve had in West Virginia as far back as we’ve been able to go back in our books,"  said the DNR’s Scott Warner.

The Natural Resources Commission approved the regulation change which allows the opening of archery season to be the closest Saturday to October 1st.  This year, it will actually be October 1st and in subsequent years could be as late as October 6th.   Previously the regulations allowed for the opening to be the Saturday closest to October 15th.

"We did that primarily for two purposes, one to provide additional recreational opportunities," said Warner.  "But also we wanted to allow two extra weeks to allow parents to get their kids out to bow hunt after school while there’s still some daylight out there."

Hunters will find the earlier start date to the season slightly different than they’ve known.  Primarily now, deer patterns are based on food and the rut is a full month away.   This means some bucks could be killed before they breed, but state officials aren’t worried about the possibility of opening too early.

"It’s not going to have any biological impact on the deer harvest at all," said Warner. "It was a well thought out decision and the commissioners supported it."

The overall deer kill in 2010 was down primarily due to the high abundance of mast.   That bumper mast crop also enabled deer to make it through the winter in better physical shape than normal.  The additional nutrition and extra year of age will add up to some impressive rack sizes for 2011.

"We’re getting reports of some very nice bucks," said Warner. "When the deer harvest is down you have a larger carryover of deer. When you have a larger carryover of deer you have older age bucks.  When you have older aged bucks you have bigger antlers."

Adding to the positives for bow hunters this fall is the mast conditions for 2011 aren’t nearly as robust.  Deer will have to travel more to find food and could be passing by more tree stands than they would in a normal mast year.

The DNR reminds bow hunters if they want to kill that extra buck, they must buy the extra buck tag BEFORE opening day.   The agency fears the earlier opening day may catch some hunters off guard and prohibit them from getting an opportunity for a second buck.  The extra buck tags are available at all license retailers and online at www.wvhunt.com


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