From West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
-- Preliminary data collected from game checking stations across the state indicate deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 66,851 bucks during the two-week buck season, which ran from November 24 through December 6, according to Frank Jezioro, Director of the Division of Natural Resources.
The 2008 buck harvest was 362 deer less than the 2007 harvest of 67,213. The top 10 counties for buck harvest were Preston (2,579), Ritchie (2,522), Wetzel (2,195), Randolph (2,104), Hampshire (2,100), Hardy (2,049), Lewis (2,019), Roane (1,981), Mason (1,980) and Greenbrier (1,928).
The 2008 buck harvest is essentially the same as 2007, according to Jezioro. The major difference is that the areas of the state where the harvest increased this year were the areas that had a decrease last year, and conversely, the areas that had an increased harvest last year are the areas that decreased this year. This resulted in an increased harvest in 22 counties and a decline in 29 counties.
Undoubtedly, poor weather the first two days of the season influenced hunter participation and probably dampened this year's harvest somewhat. Rain fell opening day statewide with temperatures in the low 40s accompanied by gusty winds. Day two was windy with falling snow and temperatures in the mid 30s. Snowfall accumulations varied across the state, with more than a foot of snow being reported in the higher mountains of eastern West Virginia. Historically, deer harvest these first two days accounts for 55 percent of the season's total.
Wildlife biologists and wildlife managers collected age-specific biological information at checking stations in Hampshire, Upshur, Mason and Tyler counties this year and preliminary analysis indicate little change from last year in antler development and overall body condition of deer in the 11/2 year age class.
White-tailed deer are a product of the environment. Too many deer on a given tract of land will result in loss of body weight, reduction in antler development, decrease in reproduction and sometimes death due to starvation during winter months.
"The state's deer management program is designed to be very responsive to changing population conditions," noted Jezioro.
"Deer regulations are adjusted annually to offer either more conservative or more liberal opportunities to harvest antlerless deer, depending upon our antlered buck harvest data analysis and management objectives for given counties."
For example, in those counties where the antlered buck harvest was above the objective for the county, liberal antlerless seasons were implemented in 2008. Reduced bag limits were applied to counties that were below their objective.
Wildlife Biologists will analyze data from the combined 2008 deer seasons (i.e., buck, antlerless, archery and muzzleloader) before making appropriate recommendations for next year's deer seasons.
These recommendations will be available for public review at 12 regulations meetings scheduled for March 16 and 17, 2009 (see current 2008-09 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary or visit the DNR Web site at www.wvdnr.gov for scheduled times and places).
Jezioro reminds hunters that the traditional six-day antlerless deer season in selected counties on both public and private land ends December 13. Muzzleloader deer season begins December 15 and runs through December 20.
The Youth and Class Q antlerless season will be open on Monday and Tuesday December 22 and 23 and be followed by a four-day reopening of antlerless deer season (December 24-27) in 44 counties or portions of counties (see 2008-09 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary or visit the DNR Web site at www.wvdnr.gov for county and area listings).