The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources released the preliminary figures from the black bear, deer, and wild turkey seasons a few days ago. The total deer harvest of 154,524 was about 5.5 percent below the 2008 harvest of 163,603. Mountain State hunters harvested 1,828 black bears from the combined bow and gun seasons. This is the second highest bear kill ever recorded. The record of 2,069 was set in 2008. The fall wild turkey harvest was 1,244. This is slightly higher than the 2008 harvest of 1206 birds.
Randolph County led the way in both bear archery and firearms seasons. The bow kill was 118, and the gun kill was 112, totaling 230.
The statewide bear bow harvest was 987. In addition to Randolph, the top five counties during the bow season were Webster (92), Greenbrier (77), Nicholas (77), and Preston (73).
Gun hunters took 841 bears during the 2009 combined gun seasons. The remaining four counties trailing Randolph were Fayette (86), Pocahontas (74), Pendleton (70), and Raleigh (58).
The fall turkey harvest declined about 15 percent in the northern counties and about 10 percent in the Eastern Panhandle counties.
The top five were Monroe (116), Nicholas (114), Greenbrier (99), Preston (82), and Mason (81). The fall turkey harvest in Randolph was 75. This is down from 115 or 35 percent in 2008. Other counties of local interest include Tucker with 25, down from 31 in 2008; Webster with 66, up from 36 or 88 percent in 2008; and Pendleton with 52 up from 47.
In 2009, hunters took 54,617 antlerless deer. This is down from 56,221, or 3 percent in 2008. This figure includes the number of deer taken during the special youth and Class Q deer hunts. The top five counties were Lewis (2,238), Jackson (2,509), Preston (2,419), Mason (2,238) and Ritchie (2,098). The antlerless harvest in Randolph County was 722. This is the first antlerless deer gun season in Randolph County since 2004.
During the muzzleloader season, nimrods harvested 8,759 deer or about 150 more than 2008. The top five counties were Preston (450), Lewis (408), Jackson (339), Braxton (331) and Randolph (299).
The statewide bow kill was 27, 558, or 12 percent below the 2008 harvest of 31,408. The top five counties in this season were Randolph (1,077), Preston (1,048), Kanawha (930), Nicholas (840) and Wood (833).
Some of these figures may change when the DNR releases the official figures sometime in March. These will be printed in the annual big game bulletin. When I get one or maybe see it online, I will try to give a more comprehensive report of all the big game hunting seasons from last year.
In the meantime, the DNR has started its trout stockings during the week of Jan. 11 through 15. They will most likely continue to stock as long as the weather remains decent. To learn more about the trout stockings, go to www.wvdnr.gov, and from there go to current news.