This Past Monday, Dec. 14, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources released the preliminary figures from the two-week buck gun season. This year's buck harvest was 62,491 statewide. This is about 8 percent lower than the 2008 buck harvest of 67,365. The top five counties were Jackson (2,493), Lewis (2,215), Preston (2,123), Roane (2,116) and Mason (2,105). Randolph finished in a three-way tie at seventh place with Braxton and Greenbrier counties at 1,896. This state figure may go up a little bit more because some of the check-in stations in remote areas are sometimes slow to get the check-in tags to the DNR.
This year's buck kill was somewhat lower in Districts I and II, which encompass the northern and eastern counties of the state. The buck harvest was close to the 2008 harvest in the remaining four DNR districts.
I was talking to one of the game biologists this past week who hunted in Hampshire County. He told me the weather in this area was something to be desired for most of the season. This could easily be a good reason why the buck kill was way down in the Eastern panhandle.
In counties of local interest, Barbour's buck kill was 1,318, down from 1413 or 7 percent from last year. Tucker was 877, down from 951 or 10 percent. Grant was 1,251, down from 1,531 or 22 percent. Pendleton was 1,189, down from 1,416 or 20 percent. Pocahontas was 1,354, up from 1,223 or 11 percent. Webster was at 851, down from 887 or 5 percent. Upshur at 1,379 was down from 1,536 or 11 percent.
I know there were several people, including myself, who expected the 2009 buck harvest to be as much as 10 to15 percent higher than the 2008 harvest. This year, it just did not happen. This year, however, is not a disaster because 62,491 bucks is still a lot of venison. If one were to lay out these entire deer nose to tail on Interstate 79 starting at the Weston Bridge going north, they would reach past the Monongalia County line.
Let us evaluate the buck gun seasons in West Virginia and Randolph County for the past 50 years in 10-year periods.
1959 19,588 *
Note: In 1959, the deer firearms season was only six days long. There was a two-day hunters' choice season in selected counties. No person could lawfully take more than one deer per calendar year.
1969 - 859
1959 1,837 *
Note: This includes the antlerless deer taken with the Hunters' choice season.
There are still plenty of deer out there, and the antlerless (Class N) season comes back in for three days on Dec. 29.