Hunters in West Virginia registered 108,856 white-tailed deer through the electronic game checking system during the recently completed buck firearms, antlerless, muzzleloader, archery, crossbow, youth/Class Q/Class XS and Mountaineer Heritage seasons.
The total harvest was within 1 percent of the 2017 deer harvest of 108,160 and 11 percent below the five-year average of 122,924, according to Paul Johansen, chief of the DNR Wildlife Resources Section.
A breakdown of the combined 2018 deer seasons reveals 44,599 bucks were harvested during the traditional buck firearm season, 32,751 antlerless deer were taken during all antlerless firearm hunting opportunities, 26,613 deer were harvested by bows and crossbows in the urban and regular archery/crossbow seasons, 4,234 deer were taken in the muzzleloader season and 659 deer were taken with primitive bow and muzzleloader weapons in the Mountaineer Heritage season.
The 2018 antlerless deer season harvest, which includes the youth/Class Q/Class XS deer season, was 2.5 percent less than in 2017 and 20 percent below the five-year average of 40,859.
“It is important to note that the antlerless harvest is the key component to any deer management strategy, as it controls the future deer population,” Johansen said.
The DNR will hold 12 public meetings across the state March 11 and 12 to gather input on fall 2019 antlerless deer hunting opportunity recommendations to increase, decrease or stabilize deer populations in each of the 51 counties where firearms deer hunting is permitted.
The top 10 counties were Preston (1,799), Upshur (1,289), Jackson (1,183), Lewis (1,160), Ritchie (1,123), Monroe (1,099), Roane (1,073), Hampshire (1,068), Wood (1,057) and Mason (922).
The 2018 muzzleloader harvest of 4,870, which includes 636 deer taken with side-lock and flintlock muzzleloaders in the Mountaineer Heritage season, was 15 percent more than the 2017 harvest of 4,243 and 12 percent below the five-year average of 5,540.
The top 10 counties were Preston (213), Randolph (205), Nicholas (198), Greenbrier (178), Upshur (169), Fayette (165), Webster (158), Jackson (154), Braxton (142) and Mason (142).
The bow and crossbow hunters’ take of 26,636 deer, which included 23 bow-harvested deer in the Mountaineer Heritage season, was 1.6 percent more than the 2017 archery season harvest of 26,206, and 3 percent below the five-year average archery season harvest of 27,506. The proportion of the harvest taken using a crossbow increased and was greater than deer reported taken by a bow for the second year.
The top 10 counties were Preston (1,333), Kanawha (1,045), Wyoming (976), Randolph (914), Raleigh (807), Logan (772), Fayette (765), Wood (709), Upshur (683) and Jackson (676).