W.Va. buck harvest is way down
On Tuesday, the West Virginia Division on Natural Resources released the preliminary harvest figures for the two-week firearms season.
In 2016, deer hunters harvested 45,871 bucks during the buck-gun season, which ran from Nov. 2 through Dec. 3. This is down from 60,814 back in 2015, or 24.6 percent.
The buck harvest decreased in all of the six WVDNR Wildlife Districts. High winds in much of the state limited deer activity and lowered the success rate on the first two days of the season. The DNR had predicted the buck harvest would be down due to the increase in number of black and red oak acorns in 2016 when compared to this same production in 2015.
Now, the DNR is reminding all deer hunters there are still some opportunities left for hunters to do able to put some venison in their freezers. The bow and crossbow-seasons don’t go out until Dec. 31. The antlerless seasons will come back in for Randolph County on Dec. 15-17 and again from Dec. 28-31 on private land acreage and certain public lands. Here is where local deer hunters need to check the 2016-2017 Hunting Regulations to make sure as to where they can and cannot take an antlerless deer with a gun.
The DNR said hunters appear to be enjoying the electronic game checking system that was implemented last year. With this new system, it is very simple for hunters to check in a deer.
The top five counties for the for the buck season were: Preston (1,769), Randolph (1,610), Jackson (1,482), Greenbrier (1,445), Ritchie (1,414). In all of these counties, there was a decrease from last year. Cabell was the only county to have an increase from last year. The buck harvest for that county was 672, up from 641 in 2015, or almost five percent.
In counties of local interest, the harvest figures are like this: Barbour was at 1,094, down from 1,281 or 15 percent; Grant was at 949, down from 1304, or 27 percent; Lewis was at 1,238, down from 1,875, or 34 percent; Pendleton was at 1,088, or 16 percent; Pocahontas was at 920, down from 1,108, or 9 percent; Randolph was at 1,610, down from 1,659, or 3 percent; Tucker was at 726, down from 483, or 7 percent; Upshur was at 1,392, down from 1704, or 18 percent; and Webster was at 941, down from 1,080 or 13 percent. Keep in mind these are only the preliminary figures. Several of them will most likely increase when the DNR makes them official.
From my own observations, there is nowhere near the participation in this noble sport as to what there was 20 years ago. Conservation organizations like the Izaak Walton League of America must continue their work when it comes to introducing youth to hunting, shooting and other outdoor activities. The deer appear to be out there where I was hunting. I could easily tell this from the number of hoof prints I could see in the snow.
The West Virginia Division of National Resources Police were quite busy during the two-week buck season. In Wyoming County the DNR Police arrested a few individuals for multiple game violations that involved the illegal killing of several trophy bucks. Other arrests were made for “spotlighting” to