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Buck firearms hunting season to begin

November 16, 2011
Tyler Star News

The season of all hunting seasons, buck firearms season, will open in West Virginia on Nov. 21 and continue until Dec. 3 with hunters from both in state and out-of-state flocking to the woods in hopes of finally bringing down the big one.

West Virginia's traditional antlered buck gun season begins on Monday, Nov. 21, according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the Division of Natural Resources (DNR). West Virginia's buck gun season provides a wealth of recreational opportunities for resident and nonresident hunters and has a tremendous economic impact on the state's economy.

"Hunters should enjoy a great season of hunting in 2011," said Taylor. "Mast conditions are not as good this year as last year, and deer will be more concentrated around specific food sources. In addition, there should be more mature bucks available to hunters this year because of the lower harvest and abundant food conditions in 2010."

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The number of deer killed during West Virginia's various seasons dropped by 32 percent in 2010.

Data collected from game checking stations across the state indicate deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 43,226 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, which ran from Nov. 22 through Dec. 4, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. The 2010 buck harvest was 31 percent less than the 2009 harvest of 62,986. The top ten counties for buck harvest were as follows: Preston (2,030), Randolph (1,817), Hardy (1,350), Greenbrier (1,348), Mason (1,264), Hampshire (1,261), Ritchie (1,236), Jackson (1,216), Lewis (1,141) and Wood (1,113).

In Tyler County, 845 deer were harvested, 351 in Pleasants County, 765 in Doddridge, and 944 in Wetzel.

Fact Box

Hunting license exceptions

In certain situations, some hunters are not required to purchase a hunting license:

Resident Landowners: Resident Landowners or their resident children or their resident parents or resident tenants of such land, may hunt or trap on their own land without a license during open seasons.

Resident landowner privileges apply to West Virginia residents who own land in West Virginia, their resident children and parents, or resident tenants. Resident tenants must permanently live on the land.

Disabled Veterans: Residents honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces receiving total permanent service connected disability benefits or former prisoners of war as determined by the Veterans Administration or resident disabled veterans who qualify under West Virginia Code 17A-10-8 and are exempted from payment of a motor vehicle registration fee by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, may hunt or trap without a license during open seasons. Such individuals shall carry on their person an identification card issued by the Director. Additional licenses required to hunt: Class N; Class RG, RM, or RB; Class A-1.

Age Exceptions: Residents 65 years or older do not need a license to hunt or trap, but shall carry a WV driver's license or WV photo ID card issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles. Residents who have not reached their 15th birthday may hunt without a license but they must be accompanied by a licensed adult.

Active Duty Military: West Virginia residents on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces while on military leave, may hunt or trap in season without obtaining a license. Leave papers shall be carried while hunting or trapping.

Last year's buck harvest was significantly lower than the previous year, with declines occurring across all DNR Districts. The largest percent decreases occurred in the western and central counties of the state. The harvest was 30th among all recorded antlered buck firearm seasons. Overall, 14 counties were above or within one buck harvested per square of the harvest objective and 37 counties were one or more bucks per square mile below the harvest objective.

White-tailed deer are a product of the environment. According to the DNR, too many deer on a given tract of land will result in loss of body weight, reduction in antler development, decrease in reproduction and sometimes death due to starvation during winter months. The cumulative effects of too many deer over time causes a decline in herd condition, which actually reduces the deer herd's resiliency to years of poor mast conditions and harsh winter weather. Unusually severe winter had a significant impact on the deer population and the overall 2010 buck firearms season harvest. Fortunately, 2010 was a banner year for mast.

Hunters are reminded that they can harvest an additional buck with the purchase of the appropriate stamp. Resident hunters wanting the extra buck should purchase the Class RG stamp. The RG stamp must be purchased prior to the beginning of the season, and the cost is $21. The RG stamp must be accompanied by a Class A and BG, A-L, AB-L, X, XJ, or free license. Resident landowners have the privilege of harvesting the extra buck without purchasing the RG stamp if they are hunting on their own property.

"The extra buck stamp could prove to be a good investment this hunting season because the number of mature bucks being spotted by DNR field personnel and hunters is higher than normal," Taylor said.

Nonresident hunters wanting an extra buck must purchase an RRG stamp prior to the beginning of the season, and the cost is $43. The RRG stamp must be accompanied by the Class E or XXJ license. Nonresident hunters who own land in West Virginia are not exempt from purchasing a license or the extra buck stamp, even if hunting on their own property.

Many counties are open to concurrent antlerless hunting during the traditional buck gun season. Antlerless hunting starts on Nov. 21 on private land in open counties and Nov. 23 on public land on open wildlife management areas. Hunters should consult the 20112012 Hunting Regulations and Summary for specific antlerless deer regulations in each county and WMA.

Only deer having one or both antlers more than 3 inches in length above the hairline are legal during the buck season.

Two deer may be taken with a gun or bow during the buck season. One must be taken on one of the following valid base licenses or license combinations: resident license (Class X, Class XJ, Class AB-L, Class A-L, or Classes A+CS); or free license (Military, Disabled Veteran, former POW, Class DT or Senior Citizen); or nonresident license (Classes XXJ+CS/LE, Classes E+CS/LE or Class DT). Underage residents and resident landowners hunting on their own land (see page 9) may take an antlered deer without a license. An additional deer may only be taken with a Class RG stamp, Class RRG stamp, Class DT license or by resident landowners hunting on their own property. Class DT license holders must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or, with written consent of the parent or guardian, any other competent licensed adult 21 years of age or older.

A hunter may take no more than three antlered deer per calendar year in all archery and firearms seasons combined.

Additional buck season gun stamps are available, and during a calendar year, a resident may purchase only one Class RG stamp and a nonresident may purchase only one Class RRG stamp.

Only one deer may be taken with a Class RG or Class RRG stamp. The Class RG and Class RRG stamps must be purchased prior to the opening of buck season. The Class RG and Class RRG stamps are valid for buck hunting in all counties open to buck season.

To take an additional deer, all residents, except resident landowners (see page 9) hunting on their own land or holders of a Class DT license, are required to purchase a Class RG gun stamp. All nonresidents are required to purchase a Class RRG gun stamp or possess a Class DT license if they choose to take an additional deer.

Deer taken on a base license or license stamp combination or Class RG or RRG stamps may be checked in any order. A hunter may not hunt an additional deer until all previously taken deer have been checked.

Only one deer may be taken per day.

Antlerless deer hunting is legal on private land in 42 counties In West Virginia or portions thereof November 21-22, 2011. These same 42 counties or portions thereof and all public lands having an antlerless season are open for concurrent antlerless hunting November 23 December 3, 2011. To hunt antlerless deer during the buck season, a valid Class N or NN stamp or Class DT license is required for all hunters except for resident landowners (see page 9) hunting on their own land. Hunters may take only one deer per day; therefore, a buck and an antlerless deer may not be taken on the same day.

Small game hunting is prohibited during the first three days of buck season in all counties having a buck season; provided, waterfowl hunting is legal on lakes, rivers and waterways during the open waterfowl season, bear hunting is legal in specified counties, and coyote hunting is legal. Small game hunting is legal during open small game seasons beginning November 24, 2011. While hunting small game during the buck season, No. 4 shot or smaller and slugs may be carried with a shotgun only if the hunter is legally hunting deer or bear.

A combination rifle-shotgun (over-under, etc.) is legal for deer hunting and concurrent small game hunting.

After killing the legal limit of deer, a hunter shall not be afield with any firearm with solid ball ammunition (unless legally hunting bear) or shot shells containing larger than No. 4 shot. Waterfowl hunters may use nontoxic shot larger than No. 4.

It is illegal to hunt small game during the buck season with any centerfire, with any rimfire larger than .22 caliber, or with a shotgun using solid ball ammunition or shot larger than No. 4 in a county that is not open to buck season.

Archery hunting for antlered and antlerless deer is legal during buck season subject to all archery deer hunting regulations. A bow may be substituted for a firearm to take antlered deer, or if hunting on a Class N or NN stamp or Class DT license, antlerless deer may be taken during the buck season on private land in specified counties and on specified public lands.

All persons hunting during a deer firearms season, except those engaged in farming activities on their own land and waterfowl hunters, must wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange as an outer garment.

All big game animals harvested must be field tagged and then checked at an official game checking station. For additional details please consult the 2011-2012 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations which are available at License Agents, DNR district offices, or on the DNR website,

After a person has killed his/her legal daily limit of deer, they may not participate further in hunting deer with either a bow or firearm the remainder of the day.

After killing the legal limit of deer, a hunter shall not be afield with any firearm with solid ball ammunition unless legally hunting bear, or shot shells containing larger than No. 4 shot unless legally hunting waterfowl using nontoxic shot.

It is legal to hunt small game during the muzzleloader season with a .22 caliber rimfire.

A hunter may take no more than three antlered deer per calendar year in all archery and firearms seasons combined.



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