The first counts of the game check-in tags indicate that West Virginia hunters in 2008 had a better bear and deer season than in 2007. The black bear harvest was 2,064. This breaks the 2007 record of 1,804 by 14 percent.
The statewide harvest during the archery season was 477 with Randolph being the leading county with 56. The counties rounding out the top five are Nicholas (37), Preston (36), Webster (32), and McDowell (24).
From all of the bear seasons combined, Randolph was again the leading county with a total harvest of 198, closely followed by Pocahontas with 197, Pendleton with 188, Greenbrier 180, and Webster with 142. While I am not a bear hunter and have no desire to kill a bear, I have to agree with the individuals who said that the game biologists are doing a great job with the bear program and for them to keep up the good work.
The first count of the deer check-in tags shows a total harvest of 162,371 in 2008. This is an increase of 11 percent over the 145,937 harvest in 2007. While this is nowhere near the total deer harvest record of 255,356 set in 2002, this is still a lot of venison no matter how much anyone wants to criticize the Division of Natural Resources.
During the archery season, hunters took 30,749, which was 12 percent above the 2007 harvest of 27,440. The top three counties were Preston with 1,434, Randolph with 1,268, and Kanawha with 878.
I can remember when just seeing a deer in Kanawha County would have been big news.
A few of the deer harvest figures from local counties are:
Barbour County: The buck kill was 1,418, up from 1,380 in 2007 or about 3 percent. The anterless kill was 1,728, up from 1361 or 27 percent. The bow kill was 678, up from 556 or 21 percent. Muzzleloader season was 245, up from 220 or 11 percent.
Randolph County: The buck harvest was 2,117, up from 1968 or 7 percent. This is good considering that the weather was not fit for man or beast for most of the buck season. The muzzleloader season was 35, down from 46 in 2007. Remember muzzleloader hunters could take only antlered deer in Randolph County.
Tucker County: The buck harvest was 976. This was just about the same as 2007, which were 974. The anterless kill was 652. This is a large increase from the 2007 kill of 257. The bow kill was 595, up from 482 or 23 percent. The muzzleloader kill was 151, down from 208 or 37 percent.
Upshur County: The buck harvest was 1,536, which was about the same as 2007 of 1,517. The antlerless kill was 1,461, up from 1,397 as 4 percent. The bow kill was 706, up from 604 or 16 percent. The muzzleloader kill was 240, down from 274 or 14 percent.
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources should be releasing the Big Game Bulletin sometime in March. I will try to do a thorough report of all the big game seasons soon after it is released.