Hunters Harvest 178,951 Deer

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Preliminary counts of game checking tags indicate West Virginia hunters harvested a total of 178,951 white-tailed deer during the recently completed bucks-only, antlerless, muzzleloader, bow and youth deer seasons, according to Division of Natural Resources Director Ed Hamrick. This year's total harvest was 14 percent less than the 2003 deer harvest and ranks as the eleventh highest total on record. A total of 65,851 bucks, 71,741 antlerless season deer (including 3,547 harvested in the youth season), 26,540 bow killed deer and 14,819 muzzleloader deer were taken during the 2004 season.

The 2004 antlerless season was 19 percent below that of 2003, but as a management tool it still produced a harvest of 9 percent more antlerless deer than bucks. The top ten counties are: Jackson (2,801), Preston (2,787), Braxton (2,560), Lewis (2,536), Ritchie (2,496), Mason (2,469), Hardy (2,333), Wetzel (2,316), Greenbrier (2,301), and Wood (2,301).

“Continued doe harvests are the key to healthier, heavier, and more productive deer herds. We will continue to recommend appropriate antlerless harvests guided by our deer harvest management plan. Where deer populations have fallen below desired levels, more conservative antlerless harvests will be recommended. Appropriate antlerless deer harvests will benefit not only the deer herd, but all wildlife dependent on our state's woodland habitat," Hamrick said.

The 2004 muzzleloader harvest of 14,819 was 9 percent below the 2003 harvest and ranks fifth highest on record. The top ten counties are: Nicholas (572), Braxton (565), Randolph (537), Greenbrier (527), Wetzel (519), Preston (517), Wood (486), Ritchie (482), Lewis (471), and Mason (436). The bow hunters take of 26,540 deer was 11 percent below the 2003 harvest and twelfth highest on record. The top ten counties are: Preston (1,106), Nicholas (898), Randolph (894), Mason (776), Greenbrier (765), Kanawha (733), Monongalia (726), McDowell (681), Mercer (671), and Fayette (645). The 3-day youth antlerless deer kill of 3,547 was 45 percent above the 2003 harvest of 2,440.