Hunters Harvest 134,557 Deer
Preliminary figures indicate hunters in West Virginia harvested a total of 134,577 white-tailed deer during the recently completed bucks-only, antlerless, muzzleloader, bow, and Youth/Class Q deer seasons, according to Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro . This year's total harvest was 25 percent less than the 2004 harvest. A total of 56,806 bucks, 46,708 antlerless season deer (including 1,890 deer harvested in the Youth/Class Q seasons), 22,255 archery deer and 8,788 muzzleloader deer was taken during the 2005 season.
The 2005 buck harvest of 56,806 was 11 percent below that of 2004. The decline in this year's buck kill is a result of the Division of Natural Resources' efforts to reduce deer densities in regions of the state exceeding deer population objectives, as identified in its White-tailed Deer Operational Plan . The top 10 counties for buck harvest were: Preston (2,269), Mason (2,082), Hardy (2,062), Jackson (2,004), Hampshire (1,983), Wood (1,694), Roane (1,684), Monongalia (1,674), Wetzel (1,666) and Marshall (1,603).
The 2005 antlerless deer harvest of 46,708 was 37 percent below that of 2004. This decline was expected, as fewer counties were open to antlerless deer hunting. In addition, reduced bag limits and fewer days were available for antlerless deer hunting in selected counties. The top 10 counties for antlerless deer harvest were: Mason (2,726), Jackson (2,612), Lewis (2,344), Wood (2,105), Monongalia (2,056), Ritchie (2,037), Preston (1,804), Roane (1,803), Marshall (1,768) and Wetzel (1,744).
The 2005 muzzleloader harvest of 8,788 was 42 percent below the 2004 harvest. Again, this decline in muzzleloader harvest was somewhat expected, as fewer counties were open to antlerless deer season and, therefore, fewer counties were open to either-sex muzzleloader hunting. The top 10 counties for muzzleloader deer harvest were: Braxton (464), Mason (437), Lewis (409), Marshall (358), Preston (348), Greenbrier (325), Monongalia (324), Wood (296), Jackson (295) and Harrison (290).
The 2005 archery deer harvest of 22,255 was 15 percent below that of 2004. The top 10 counties for archery harvest were: Preston (1,010), Mason (800), Jackson (768), Monongalia (701), Nicholas (662), Randolph (656), Greenbrier (651), Kanawha (596), Wood (588) and Harrison (514).
“This year's deer harvest demonstrates the overall success of deer herd reduction efforts implemented in counties exceeding their population objectives,” said DNR Director Frank Jezioro. In 2004, the deer population exceeded desired management objectives in 12 counties, representing 12 percent of the state's deer habitat. Preliminary data from the 2005 season indicate deer populations exceeded management objectives in seven counties or 6 percent of the state's deer habitat. “We have made significant progress toward balancing the state's deer population with available habitat,” Jezioro said.
Harvesting female deer during the various hunting seasons is the most important and effective tool used by wildlife managers, landowners and hunters to control deer numbers and bring deer populations in line with their carrying capacity. As this management strategy is accomplished, antler size, body weight and overall physical condition of the deer herd will improve. The Division of Natural Resources will continue to implement appropriate antlerless deer harvest regulations for future deer seasons. Where deer populations exceed management objectives, liberal antlerless deer harvest regulations will be implemented to achieve management objectives. Where these populations are below management objectives, more conservative seasons will be put in place.