Hunters harvest 37,277 bucks during season
Preliminary data collected from game checking stations across the state indicate deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 37,277 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, which ran from Nov. 24 through Dec. 6, 2014, according to Frank Jezioro, director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR).
The 2014 buck harvest is down 34 percent from the 2013 harvest of 56,523. The top 10 counties for buck harvest were as follows: Preston (1,531), Greenbrier (1,384), Randolph (1,254), Lewis (1,159), Ritchie (1,157), Hampshire (1,069), Wood (1,019), Upshur (1,015), Monroe (1,001), and Mason (998).
Tyler County’s numbers have fluctuated over the last five years, with this year’s total being the lowest yet. In 2010, hunters bagged 833 deer in Tyler County; in 2011, 1,189 were taken; in 2012, 922; in 2013, 1,000; and throughout the 2014 season, 579 deer were checked in.
In Wetzel County, 958 deer were taken in 2013; 1,615 in 2011; 1,471 in 2012; 1,537 in 2013 and 893 in 2014.
Pleasants County numbers reflect much the same: 2010, 512 deer were checked in; in 2011, 512; 2012, 371; 2013, 438; and 2014, 272.
This year’s overall buck harvest is lower than last year’s with decreases occurring in all DNR districts. The largest percentage decreases occurred in the western counties of the state, while the buck harvest in the mountain and southeastern counties had smaller decreases.
Warm and very windy weather across the state on opening day; heavy snowfall Wednesday, the third day of the season, in the eastern panhandle of the state; and a rainy second week impacted hunter participation and contributed to the decreased harvest across the state.
The excellent acorn crop this fall also contributed to lower hunter success, just as a similar abundant acorn crop in 2010 led to a 31 percent decline in buck harvest followed by a 38 percent rebound in 2011. This year’s preliminary buck harvest remains 33 percent below the previous five-year average of 55,902.
Wildlife biologists and wildlife managers collected age-specific biological information at checking stations in 19 counties this year.
They will analyze data from the combined 2014 deer seasons (buck, antlerless, archery and muzzleloader) before making appropriate recommendations for next year’s deer seasons.
These recommendations will be available for public review at 12 regulations meetings scheduled for March 16 and 17, 2015. Visit the DNR Web site at www.wvdnr.gov for meeting locations and dates).