Preliminary data collected from game checking stations across the state indicate deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 59,835 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, which ran from November 21 through December 3, according to Frank Jezioro, Director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). The 2011 buck harvest was 38 percent more than the 2010 harvest of 43,461. The top 10 counties for buck harvest were as follows: Preston (2,162), Randolph (2,039), Jackson (1,960), Mason (1,931), Greenbrier (1,803), Roane (1,743), Wood (1,703), Hampshire (1,661), Upshur (1,596) and Hardy (1,574).
This year’s buck harvest is significantly higher than last year, with increases occurring across all DNR districts. The largest percentage increases occurred in the western and southern counties. This year’s preliminary buck harvest remains 3 percent below the previous five-year average of 61,428.
Wildlife biologists and wildlife managers collected age-specific biological information at checking stations in 12 counties this year. Preliminary analysis indicates antler development was good and many hunters harvested older-aged bucks. Other contributing factors such as the exceptional acorn crop in the fall of 2010 and deer densities more in balance with the habitat in many areas combined to make this year’s deer season successful for many hunters.
“White-tailed deer are a product of the environment,” Jezioro said. “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. Hunters and landowners must continually assess their expectations of the proper number of deer sightings versus the visible impacts deer have on vegetation. We need help managing the state’s deer herd by participating and encouraging antlerless deer harvests where needed to benefit not only the deer herd, but all wildlife dependent on our state’s woodland habitat.”
Wildlife Biologists will analyze data from the combined 2011 deer seasons (i.e., 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 12 and 13, 2012 (see current 2011 - 2012 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary page 5 or visit the WVDNR website at www.wvdnr.gov  for scheduled times and places).
Director Jezioro reminds hunters that the traditional six-day antlerless deer season in selected counties on both public and private land ends Saturday, December 10. Muzzleloader deer season begins December 12 and runs through December 17. The Youth and Class Q/QQ antlerless deer season will be open on Monday and Tuesday, December 26 and 27 in any county with a firearms deer season, and will be followed by a four-day reopening of antlerless deer season (December 28 - 31) in 42 counties or portions of counties (see 2011 - 2012 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary or visit the DNR Web site at www.wvdnr.gov  for county and area listings).