Several hunters are saying that 2010 was a strange or unusual hunting season statewide. We had an abundance of acorns and hickory nuts last year. Yet nimrods are telling me with all this mast there was very little game. This could be quite true. I remember the squirrel hunting season in Roane County in 1957 when there was acorns and hickory everywhere, but very few squirrels. Well now, the answer to this situation is plain and simple. The year before there was very little mast in that county.
Back then, hunters and wildlife biologists did not seem to realize that game populations were dependent on what the mast was from the year before.
In 2008 and 2009, the nut trees did not produce well in this area or most of district three. Soft fruit trees were also low with the exception of apples and black cherry in 2008. Wild animals do not reproduce well in the spring when food is low in the fall. Today hunters and game biologists now accept this as a hard reality.
Last week, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources released the preliminary figures of all the deer seasons we had last year. A total of 105,743 deer were harvested in 2010. This compares to the total of 155,214 taken in 2009. This is down about 32 percent.
I wrote a column last month about the buck season being down better than 31 percent.
All of the other deer seasons were down by nearly the same percentage numbers in 2010.
A total of 34,365 antlerless deer were taken in 2010. This includes the youth and Class Q deer seasons. This compares to 54,514 in 2009, or down 37 percent. It is also 29 percent below the five-year average of 48,225.
The muzzleloader season harvest of 6,041 was 35 percent less than the 2009 season of 9,232 and 27 percent below the five-year average of 8,290. During this season, Randolph was the leading county with 390 deer taken by muzzleloading hunters.
Bow hunters took 21,203 deer which was down 26 percent from 2009 harvest of 28,482. This is about 21 percent below the five-year average of 26,916. The top five counties were Preston (1,140), Randolph (1,001), Kanawha (687), Monongalia (686), and Mason (677).
The official figures will be out in the Big Game Bulletin that will be released by the DNR in late February or early March.
I plan to give a more comprehensive report on all the deer seasons at that time.
I was hoping there would be no shooting fatalities during the deer season last year and for a few days thought there was not any.
This past weekend, I found out that a hunter died from a rifle shot to the chest on Thanksgiving Day in Greenbrier County near Ronceverte. The body was sent to the medical examiners office for inspection.
The victim appeared to have died from a shot that was self-inflicted. Whether this was accidental or intentional may never be known, but CASH (Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting) is using this to promote their agenda.