In just about all hunting-related shooting accidents or incidents, there is only a shooter and victim.
This past November in Harrison County, a 22 year-old man from Gypsy was shot in the thigh about three inches above the knee with a centerfire rifle.
According to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Police, the shooter is a 50-year-old man from Shinnston. When I talked to the DNR police captain of District One last month, the officer did not want to give out any information about this incident because other people were involved. The Captain's statement was somewhat like this, "the more we investigate, the broader the incident gets."
This past Monday I talked with a DNR police sergeant who was also involved with this case. He came right out and said this whole thing has been a "nightmare." Right now, the shooter has entered a guilty plea to two misdemeanors: negligent shooting and hunting without permission. According to the Harrison County Magistrates Office, the sentencing will be at a later date.
The 22-year-old victim in this hunting-related shooting has now been charged with two felony counts of being a person prohibited from possessing a firearm and is now being held in jail under $20,000 bond.
According to the DNR, three and possibly four other people have been charged with numerous offenses that include two felony counts of wanton endangerment, along with misdemeanor counts of being a person prohibited from having possession of a firearm, failing to wear blaze orange, hunting without a license, assault and battery, and obstructing a DNR police officer by giving him false information.
When I was talking to the Harrison County Magistrates office Tuesday, the employee who types up the warrants on the individuals involved also used the word "nightmare" when trying to get everything correct with all the charges on the individuals involved. If and when this hunting-related incident gets untangled, I will try to have a column about it sometime in the spring.
The preliminary figures of all the four deer seasons are now out. According to this early count, a total of 132,323 white-tailed deer were taken during the 2011 hunting season. This is a 24 percent increase over the 2010 season of 106,499.
The top ten counties are: Preston (5,712), Mason (5,181), Jackson (4,782), Wood (4,173), Upshur (3,883), Lewis (3,815), Monongalia (3,785), Randolph (3,783), Braxton (3,701), and Roane (3,607). When I was learning how to hunt in the middle to late 50s, a deer in Jackson or Roane County was almost unheard of.
The preliminary count for the antlerless season is 38,381. This is 11 percent above the 2010 harvest of 34,600, but 16 percent below the five-year average of 45,656. The top five counties are Mason (2,125), Preston (1,958), Jackson (1,776), Wood (1,513), and Lewis (1,501).
The total for the muzzleloader season is 7,290, which is 13 percent above the 2010 harvest of 6,476 and six percent below the five-year average of 7,772. The top five counties are Jackson (358), Braxton (345), Mason (320), Lewis (293), and Preston (288). Randolph County finished seventh with 238.
The archery season harvest was 26,136, which is 19 percent above the 2010 harvest of 21,962, but three percent below the five-year average of 26,919. The top five counties are Preston (1,207), Kanawha (878), Nicholas (874), Raleigh (807), and Fayette (802).
I did a column on the buck harvest last month. This figure is about a 37 percent increase over the 2010 harvest.
All of these figures will be official when the DNR releases the annual Big Game Bulletin sometime in February or March. Chances are, there will be a slight increase in all of the seasonal counts, but I don't think any of the figures will be state or county records. It will still be interesting how the DNR will conduct the antlerless season for this area in 2012.