Buck Harvest Up Dramatically for 2011


Biologists with the West Virginia DNR expected the 2011 buck season to be better than 2010, but nobody expected it to be this good.  Preliminary harvest figures indicate West Virginia hunters killed 59,835 bucks during the two week season.

"The magnitude of the harvest increase certainly was a pleasant surprise," said DNR Game Management Chief Paul Johansen. "I personally didn’t expect it to be that high."

The southern counties of West Virginia and the western counties saw the highest percentage increase over the totals from 2010, but Johansen said it didn’t really matter where you looked everybody was killing more bucks this year.

"Those trends were apparently across all of our districts at least as reflected in the overall buck harvest," Johansen said. "It was pretty much a statewide phenomenon."

The numbers were one improvement, the size of antlers added to the success. 

"There were some really decent bucks taken this year," said Johansen. "I was working the check station in Hampshire County and I saw some sleungers coming through there and that’s not always what you expect in those eastern panhandle counties."

Hunters are also reporting a high number of extremely large racked bucks for West Virginia.  DNR officials attribute that to a couple of factors.  The lower number of deer killed in the 2010 buck season allowed a larger number of bucks to gain another year of age.  Secondly, they were able to gain their second year with abnormally high nutritional levels thanks to an abundance of mast in the fall of 2010.   The deer pulled through the winter with very low mortality and the improved nutrition helped fuel antler development.

"You know 59-thousand plus bucks, that was a great season for us," Johansen said.

The increased harvest came in a year when the first three days of the hunting season in many parts of the state offered miserable conditions.  Johansen said had the weather been better on those days, the harvest may have been even higher for 2011. 

A large number of counties in West Virginia also offered a coinciding antlerless hunting season during the two-week buck season on private land.   The numbers for the antlerless deer harvest haven’t yet been compiled. 


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