Muzzleloader Deer Season Opens December 12

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West Virginia 's six-day muzzleloader deer season begins December 12 and continues through December 17, 2005 in all counties open to firearm hunting for deer, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

“We anticipate this year's muzzleloader harvest will be slightly lower than the 2004 harvest,” noted Curtis Taylor , Chief of the Wildlife Resouces Section. “As per our statewide deer management plan, fewer counties were open for Class N antlerless deer hunting this fall; therefore, there are fewer counties will be open to either-sex muzzleloader deer hunting during the 2005 muzzleloader deer season. Since antlerless deer typically comprise a major portion of the muzzleloader harvest, a lower muzzleloader deer harvest is projected this year.”

Hunters are reminded that the muzzleloader bag limit is one antlered deer in those counties or portions thereof closed to antlerless (Class N) deer hunting. One either-sex deer may be taken in counties or portions thereof and State Wildlife Management Areas open to antlerless deer hunting. A second either-sex deer may be taken using an unfilled Class RG or Class RRG additional deer license or by a resident landowner utilizing that privilege hunting on his/her own property in 25 specified counties.

Muzzleloader hunters in Greenbrier County should be aware of an error in the muzzleloader season map located on Page 20 of the 2005-06 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary. As specified on Pages 10 and 11 of the Regulations Summary, Greenbrier County will be open to either-sex muzzleloader deer hunting in that portion of the county located South of I-64 and West of Rt. 219. The remainder of Greenbrier County located North of I-64 and East of Rt. 219 will be open to bucks-only muzzleloader deer hunting.

During the muzzleloader deer season, only single shot muzzleloaders (including “in-lines”) of .38 caliber or larger may be used. Both open and telescopic sights are legal to use during this season. Firearms that have been converted into a muzzleloader by the use of a plug, or double-barreled or swivel-barreled muzzleloaders may not be used during the muzzleloader season. When being transported in or on a vehicle, muzzleloaders are considered unloaded when uncapped or when the priming charge is removed from the pan. A bow may not be substituted for a muzzleloader.

Concurrent archery and small game hunting is legal during the muzzleloader season subject to all archery and small game hunting regulations, except all hunters must wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange as an outer garment. Hunters should consult the 2005-06 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary or visit the Division of Natural Resources' website at www.wvdnr.gov for additional information, including daily and season bag limits for specified counties.