Hunters harvest 106,861 deer during seasons
SOUTH CHARLESTON — According to preliminary data collected by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, hunters in the Mountain State harvested 106,861 white-tailed deer during the 2020-2021 fall and winter seasons.
The harvest was 7.5 percent higher than the 2019 harvest of 99,437 deer and 6 percent below the five-year average of 113,444.
A breakdown of the combined 2020 deer seasons reveals a total of 38,785 bucks were harvested during the traditional buck firearm season, 31,255 antlerless deer were taken during all antlerless firearm hunting opportunities, 31,564 deer were harvested by bows and crossbows in urban and regular archery/crossbow seasons, 4,615 deer were taken in the muzzleloader season and 642 deer were taken with primitive bow and muzzleloader weapons during the Mountaineer Heritage season in January 2021.
Antlerless Deer Season Harvest
The 2020 antlerless deer harvest of 31,255, which includes the youth/Class Q/Class XS deer season, was 10 percent higher than the 28,336 deer taken in 2019 and 8 percent below the five-year average of 33,863.
“It is important to note the antlerless harvest is the key component to any deer management strategy, as it controls the future deer population,” said Paul Johansen, chief of the WVDNR’s Wildlife Resources Section.
The 10 counties with the highest antlerless deer harvests in 2020 were Preston (2,041), Upshur (1,282), Hampshire (1,132), Lewis (1,130), Ritchie (1,079), Jackson (1,065), Wood (1,044), Barbour (945), Monroe (898) and Mason (875).
Muzzleloader Deer Season Harvest
The 2020 muzzleloader harvest of 4,615, which does not include 612 deer taken with side lock and flintlock muzzleloaders during the Mountaineer Heritage season, was 2 percent higher than the 2019 harvest of 4,522 and only 20 deer below the five-year average of 4,635.
The ten counties with the highest harvests during the 2020 muzzleloader season were Preston (277), Randolph (218), Nicholas (209), Upshur (168), Barbour (161), Greenbrier (146), Mason (143), Lewis (139), Braxton (134) and Jackson (131).
Archery and Crossbow Deer Season Harvest
The bow and crossbow hunter’s take of 31,564 deer, which does not include 30 recurve and longbow harvested deer taken during the Mountaineer Heritage season, was 7 percent higher than the 2019 archery and crossbow season harvest of 29,508 and 12 percent above the five-year average archery season harvest of 28,278.
The number of harvests in 2020 that were taken with a crossbow increased and was greater than deer reportedly taken by a bow for the fourth year. The ten counties with the highest archery and crossbow harvests in 2020 were Preston (1,742), Kanawha (1,178), Randolph (1,079), Raleigh (1,007), Wood (936), Upshur (891), Fayette (869), Berkeley (857), Monongalia (852) and Wyoming (851).