The proposed changes to the whitetail deer hunting seasons and bag limits historically draw the most attention from sportsmen in West Virginia. However, this year’s proposals now before sportsmen and the Natural Resources Commission are largely benign to any of the sweeping changes made last year.
“This is the second year of our new whitetail deer operational plan,” said Biologist Chris Ryan. “We need a couple of years to see exactly what that framework has done and its impact on the harvest and the population. So there’s very minor modification for 2013.”
The one change will be more West Virginia counties will be proposed to be included in a more liberal antlerless deer hunting season. For the first time in modern history, the DNR is proposing an antlerless hunting season, in some form, in all 51 counties in West Viginia where firearms hunting is allowed.
“Traditionally there have been some counties in the south that have been closed,” said Ryan. “But all or parts of those counties are going to be proposed to be open for 2013.”
The bag limits vary from one to three antlerless deer depending on the county. There are portions of some counties which will be closed to antlerless deer hunting. Ryan says a change in state code by last year’s legislature will enable huners to take two deer per day.
“In 2013 you will be able to harvest two deer per day with any weapon, archery or a gun,” Ryan said. “Provided only one buck may be harvested for one day.”
Ryan added hunters will be allowed to check in both deer at the same time, eliminating the old requirement from a few years ago of checking in the first deer before returning to the woods.
One more caveat of the proposals is a regulation which first appeared in 2012. Hunters will be required to kill a doe before they can take their second buck with either a rifle or bow.
The proposed changes are now out for public comment. DNR representatives will speak directly with sportsmen at the March sectional meetings about those proposals. The Natural Resources Commission will finalize the results after weighing public comment.