Big game harvest numbers now official

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has released the annual Big Game Bulletin for 2018. The big game harvest figures for all of West Virginia big game hunting seasons (black bear, white-tailed deer, wild boar and wild turkey) are now official. All of West Virginia hunters would do well to get one of these bulletins, study it and keep it for their own records.

The total black bear harvest for 2018 was 2,606 bears. This is down from the 3,160 that was bagged in 2017 or 17.5 percent. However, this is still the 6th highest bear harvest on record. The record year was 2015 when bear hunters took 3,201 animals.

It was a two-way tie for the county that had the highest kill. Last year, Nicholas and Pocahontas have the honors with a harvest of 175 each. Randolph County finished third with a harvest of 169. The remaining top five counties are Webster with 156 bears, Greenbrier and Pendleton counties tied for fifth place with 139 each.

The Spring Gobbler harvest for 2018 was 12,287 bearded turkeys. The top five counties are as follows: Preston (555), Mason (469), Jackson (460), Harrison (440) and Marshall (417). Counties of local interest include: Barbour (250), Grant (160), Pendleton (112), Pocahontas (113), Randolph (207), Tucker (89), Upshur (335) and Webster (129). The record for Spring Gobbler was 2,001 when hunters took 17,875 bearded turkeys.

The fall turkey harvest for 2018 was 1,215 birds. This is up from the 948 harvest in 2017 or 28 percent. Randolph was the leading county with a harvest of 76 turkeys. The rest of the top five were Nicholas with 68, Greenbrier with 65, Upshur with 58 and Preston with 54.

The total wild turkey harvest for 2018 was 13,502. This is the 14th highest wild turkey harvest since records started being kept in 1966.

In 2018, hunters took 137 wild boars. This is the highest since 1997 when boar hunters took 141 wild boars. The record year was 1995 when hunters bagged 158 wild boars.

Last year, all of the wild boars were taken in Boone and Logan counties. Twenty-two were taken with a crossbow, 52 with a bow and 63 with a firearm.

Wild boars were introduced in West Virginia in 1971 as a supplement to other big game seasons. The first hunting season on wild boar was in 1979 when hunters only took three boars.

The total white-tailed deer harvest for the 2018 hunting season was 108,856. This is within one percent of the 2017 harvest of 108,160. A total of 44,599 antlered deer taken during the traditional two-week buck gun season. During the various antlerless firearm seasons 32,751 deer were taken, 26,613 during the archery/crossbow season.

The country that had the highest total deer kill was Preston with 4,952 white-tails. Randolph finished a distant second with 3,654. The remainder of the top five are as follows: Jackson (3,332), Upshur (3,296) and Greenbrier (3,075).

In counties of local interest, the totals were Barbour (2,478), Grant (2,372), Lewis (2,771), Pendleton (2,282), Pocahontas (1,521), Tucker (1,716) and Webster (1,966).

In Randolph County, the total white-tailed deer harvest was 3,654. This was up from the 2017 harvest of 3,559 or three percent. During the two-week bucks only season hunters took 1,685 bucks. This is up from the 1,633 in 2017 or another three percent. During the various antlerless seasons, hunters took 850 deer. In 2017, hunters took 849 deer which is really no increase at all. The archery/crossbow deer harvest in Randolph County was 914. This is up from the 2017 deer harvest of 883 or about 3.5 percent. In the muzzleloader season, hunters took 185 whitetails. This is down from the 194 in 2017 or about four percent. Twenty more deer were taken during the Mountaineer Heritage Season that was held this past January.

The 2019-2020 deer-season for Randolph County should be about the same as last year. The Hunting and Trapping regulations should be out sometime in early July.

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