From preliminary figures compiled by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, hunters harvested 66,851 bucks during the 2008 buck gun season. That's down from 362 in 2007.
I think everyone was anticipating a large increase over the 2007 season.
The weather statewide, however, was not fit to be outdoors for most of the two-week buck season.
Because of a bad head cold and the worsening weather, I only buck hunted one other day after opening day.
Twenty-two counties had an increase over the 2007 season, while 29 counties had a decline from last year. Preston was the leading county with a harvest of 2,579. This compared to a harvest of 2,309 in 2007 in this county.
Randolph finished in fourth place at 2,104. This is up from 1,968 in 2007.
Counties of local interest include Barbour with a harvest of 1,414, up from 1,380 last year. Lewis had a kill of 2,019, up from 1,952. Pendleton was at 1,402, down from 1,698; Pocahontas was at 1,219, down from 1,277; Webster was at 857, down from 929; and Upshur was nearly the same as last year with a harvest of 1,533 in 2008 to 1,517 in 2007.
The wildlife biologists will study all of the harvest figures from the seasons combined (buck, antlerless, archery, muzzleloader and youth) and make recommendations to the DNR commissioners in the spring for the 2009 deer seasons.
Sportsmen will also get their chance to make recommendations at the regulations meetings scheduled for March 16 and 17.
In the meantime, I would recommend that varmint hunters get their rifles ready for action when good weather comes this spring. The deer reproduction should be good.
This would be the perfect time to go after the coyotes. I feel that the coyotes have become a problem in West Virginia and Eastern United States.
The WVDNR practically permits unrestricted hunting of these rascals from Jan. 1 through July 31.
During these dates, they can be hunted at night using amber or red-colored artificial light. Electronic calls are also legal, and there is no bag limit.