As of Thursday, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has not released any figures on the total buck harvest for 2012. I reported last week that I had not fired a shot for this year.
However, on Nov. 30, I was able to say "I got my deer." One shot, about 100 yards using a .308 Winchester with a handloaded 150 grain soft-point bullet, yielded a large doe.
As I have said before, when you squeeze that trigger and down the deer, the fun of hunting is over. It's now time for the work to begin. This year, the drag for my deer had to be the second most difficult I have ever had in all my years of deer hunting. I think the most difficult drag I ever had was back in 1987, when I got a deer in Barbour County on Gower Run. Back then, I was naturally younger with a lot more energy.
This year, the nearly 1/2-mile drag took me at least 2 1/2 hours to get to a vehicle. I was lucky someone was nearby and able to help me the last 75 yards. The family dog was so excited to see me. She wanted to smell me and the deer from head to foot. When I got the carcass to Bill Cole's to be processed, it weighed an even 100 pounds after being fully field-dressed.
What really made this drag hellish was all the downed trees that were over this logging trail. I know that it took me a good 45 minutes to get this dead animal through and past a downed tree covering the old tram road.
Just about everyone I have talked to this year has told me the downed trees have made a considerable difference in the visibility. One hunter I have known for over 20 years told me, "In the woods I usually go to, you can see anywhere from 100-150 yards. This year I was lucky to be able to see 50 yards."
This is about the way everything was in Pocahontas, Randolph, and Tucker counties.
From reading a few reports on the Internet, some parts of the state are getting various reports. In Cabell and Wayne counties, check-in employees are reporting respectable kills. The first week they say "we were swamped."
The second week was slower, but there were still plenty of deer to be checked in.
In the far Eastern panhandle, initial reports indicate things were on the slow side. People at local checkpoints in Morgan County say it's been a quieter hunting season than in past years. One person went as far as to say "but it's like each year with the economy the way it is, people don't have jobs, they don't have money, they can't afford a license, can't afford the guns and shells, ammo going up extremely high." The price of gasoline is also high enough to keep people from driving any distance just to go hunting. Hunters in this area are saying the woods are quiet. There are fewer hunters to scare the deer.
This week, the muzzleloader hunters have had some decent weather to enjoy their pastime. I have never had any interest in this type of firearm. Even if I had, I think I am too tired from dragging my first deer out of the woods.
The antlerless deer gun season will come back in on Dec.13 and run through Dec. 15. It will re-open Dec. 28 and run through Dec. 31. The archery season will be in until Dec. 31. There is still some time for hunters to get some fresh venison for their freezers.
Right now, I am going to think about getting some Christmas shopping done. Maybe after Christmas, I will be rested up enough to where I can try to get another antlerless deer in another county if the weather is fit to be out.