Last week, I said that I would try to give a more comprehensive report from the 2013 Big Game Bulletin.
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources puts out this bulletin each year for the benefit of all sportsmen and women statewide. The printing of all this information is made possible from the revenue taken in from hunting and fishing license fees, and from Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration.
Last year, West Virginia hunters took 2,692 black bears. This is the second highest harvest on record of black bears. The top five counties were Randolph (297), Pendleton (221), Greenbrier (180), Webster (178) and Nicholas (146). In counties of local interest, the bear harvest was Barbour (46), Lewis (7), Grant (95), Pocahontas (140), Tucker (108) and Upshur (18).
Black bears have one of the lowest reproductive rates of any wild animal in North America, in most cases only reproducing every two years, having relatively small litters, and taking several years to reach sexual maturity. Even here, I still look for this year's bear harvest to be above 2,000 because of the increasing number of bear sightings being reported statewide.
The total 2013 spring gobbler harvest was 11,162 gobblers. This is a 34 percent increase over the 2012 spring gobbler harvest of 8,303. The top five counties were Preston (403), Mason (370), Harrison (355), Kanawha 332), with Ritchie and Jackson tied for fifth at 326 gobblers.
Randolph County had a spring gobbler harvest of 217, but was well down the list. Other counties of local interest include Barbour (162), Grant (129), Lewis (221), Pendleton (117), Tucker (57), Upshur (262) and Webster (118).
A total of 42 counties were open during the fall 2013 turkey season. The total for the autumn season was 999. This is a 23 percent decrease from the 2012 harvest of 1,294. The interest in fall turkey hunting appears to be on the decline for the past ten years. The record for the fall harvest was 5,684 set in 1982. It has been more than ten years when the fall harvest exceeded 2,500 birds.
The top five counties for the fall turkey season were Preston (77), Monroe (71), Randolph (59), Greenbrier (58), and Pocahontas (57). The counties of local interest include Grant (41), Lewis (8), Pendleton (26), Upshur (24) and Webster (35). Barbour County was closed for fall turkey hunting in 2013.
I need to correct an error in last week's column about the 2013 wild boar season in West Virginia. Last week, I reported that 25 boars were taken with a bow and 24 were taken with a gun. These figures are incorrect.
Here are the corrected figures: in Boone County, 10 wild boars were taken with a bow and 15 boars were taken with a firearm. In Logan County, 12 were taken with a bow, and 12 were taken with a gun. A total of 25 wild boars were killed in Boone County and a total of 24 in Logan County. This is nowhere near the record of 158 set in 1995.
A total of 150,877 white-tailed deer were taken by hunters from all of the various deer seasons combined in West Virginia.
This is a 14 percent increase from the 2012 harvest of 132,261. The top five counties were Jackson (5,389), closely followed by Preston (5,382), Mason 4,986), Wood (4,922) and Roane (4,868).
The total deer harvest in Randolph County was 3,585. This is down from the 2012 harvest of 4,169, or 16 percent. From my own observation, the deer numbers are down in certain areas of this county but are up or at least constant in others. Now is the time for the varmint hunters to go after some of these coyotes that appear to be working on the young deer in this generalized area of the state.
In other counties, the total deer harvest is Barbour County with a 2013 harvest of 3,027, up from the 2012 harvest of 2,588, or 16 percent; Grant had a total harvest of 2,550, up from 2,385, or eight percent; Pendleton was at 2,299, down from 2,452 in 2012, or six percent; Pocahontas was at 1,841, down from 1,925 in 2012, or five percent; Tucker was at 1,388, down from 1,478, or seven percent; Upshur was at 4,008, up from 3,512, or 15 percent; and Webster was at 1,757, down from 2,037, or 16 percent.
The Big Game Bulletin has a lot more interesting and valuable information in it. Hunting enthusiasts would be wise to study this information either online at www.wvdnr.gov, or go by the Elkins Operations Center and pick one up. This could be the time to think about where you might like to deer hunt this fall.