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WV hunters take 131,444 deer in 2012

From West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

-- Preliminary counts of game checking tags indicate West Virginia hunters harvested a total of 131,444 white-tailed deer during the 2012 bucks-only, antlerless, muzzleloader, archery and youth/Class Q/Class XS deer seasons. The number is three percent below the 2011 deer harvest of 135,696.

A total of 56,658 bucks, 45,169 antlerless season deer, 24,571 bow-killed deer and 5,046 muzzleloader season deer were taken during the 2012 season.

The 2012 antlerless deer season, which includes the youth/Class Q/Class XS deer season, was 12 percent above 2011.  Many counties had liberalized antlerless hunting seasons in 2012, including 10 counties that required hunters to harvest an antlerless deer before harvesting a second buck with a gun or bow.

Modifications to the antlerless season led to an increased harvest, ensuring deer populations do not exceed management objectives. The top 10 counties were Preston (2,343), Mason (2,026), Jackson (1,759), Wood (1,608), Lewis (1,575), Upshur (1,569), Harrison (1,511), Ritchie (1,391), Monongalia (1,340) and Randolph (1,325).

The 2012 muzzleloader harvest of 5,046 was 36 percent less than the 2011 harvest of 7,873 and was 37 percent below the five-year average of 7,969.   The top 10 counties were Preston (237), Randolph (230), Nicholas (219), Braxton (216), Webster (203), Jackson (173), Fayette (170), Upshur (160), Lewis (157) and Mason (147).

Bow hunters took 24,571 deer, a harvest 10 percent below the 27,404 taken in 2011 and 10 percent below the five-year average harvest of 27,339. Archery harvests are directly correlated to hard mast crops, and the above average acorn crop was the primary factor for the lower harvest in 2012.

The top 10 counties were Preston (1,089), Kanawha (863), Raleigh (796), Randolph (791), Monongalia (769), Wyoming (765), Logan (739), Greenbrier (727), Fayette (707) and Nicholas (693).

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