CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Deer Association aims to tackle a simmering hot-button issue head-on during a gathering this weekend in Braxton County.
The organization’s second annual Whitetail Summit is this Saturday at the Days Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Flatwoods. The event begins Saturday at 11 a.m. with a presentation by DNR Deer Project Leader Brett Skelly on the state of the West Virginia deer herd. Following Skelly’s presentation, the group plans an open forum on the impact of crossbows on the West Virginia deer population.
“The West Virginia Deer Association is not opposed to crossbows,” said President Jeremy Preston. “But we’ve had a lot of people raising the issue about a lot of bucks getting killed early in the year with crossbows.”
According to Preston the aim is to have an open and honest discussion about the matter and an examination of the data.
“Is it having a biological impact that we’re shooting more bucks early? Is that having an impact on breeding activity and the rut?” he added. “That’s the kind of stuff we want to look at.”
The topic has been one of severe consternation and sniping on social media and message board platforms. However, on-line conversations have a tendency to devolve into unproductive and endless argument with very little data, qualified information, or productive discussion. Preston and the Association hope Saturday’s forum will present the controversial topic in an honest light.
“We want to get people in the room, in person, to look at each other and have a conversation. Let’s start talking to each other rather than typing at each other,” he said.
Preston said it’s unknown at this point if crossbows are having a negative impact on deer, but he hoped by having the discussion the data could help provide definitive answers.
Along with the anticipated vigorous crossbow discussion, the organization will also feature an afternoon seminar with Dr. Grant Woods from Growing Deer TV. He’ll deliver a presentation on regenerative farming and food plot techniques.
The organization’s banquet will be Saturday evening and Woods will be the banquet’s keynote speaker.
The Whitetail Summit is free, but those planning to attend are asked to RSVP at the Association’s website to insure there’s enough room to accommodate the crowd. The banquet is $50 for dinner and that covers the cost of membership in the organization as well.