Robert Cutright was going for the big bucks Monday morning.
The first day of buck gun season in West Virginia was also the first day in more than two decades Cutright, a recent retiree, has been able to enjoy one of his favorite hobbies - hunting -instead of having to work.
And he wasn't taking aim at anything that wasn't bragworthy.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Katie Kuba
Elkins resident Robert Cutright checked in this 8-point buck Monday — the first day of buck gun season — at Par Mar Stores on Route 33 in Elkins. Cutright said he shot the deer in Ellamore in Upshur County.
"I wasn't going to shoot anything little," Cutright said, proudly eyeing the 8-point he shot in Ellamore in Upshur County. Cutright, who went out hunting with his brother, John Cutright, said he downed the deer around 10 a.m. in Ellamore in Upshur County.
Cutright was one of the many hunters who slowly but steadily streamed into the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources checking station at Par Mar Stores on Route 33 in Elkins.
Elkins resident Guy Gibson checked in a 3-point buck at the same locale. He shot the deer from his treestand, which he's been stationing in the same place off Georgetown Road since he was 12 years old.
"The weather was nice this morning, really cool," said Gibson, who went hunting with his 19-year-old son, David Gibson. "Now, (the deer) aren't moving as much because of the temperature increase."
Wendy Thurston, advisor for the Elkins High School Future Farmers of America, was manning the checking station at Par Mar Stores. She said hunters - and dead deer - were fewer and farther between than they've been in recent years on the first day of buck gun season.
"Not many have come through," Thurston observed around 1 p.m. Monday. "This is the fewest I've seen over the last five years, but maybe they just haven't come in yet. Sometimes, they shoot them in the morning and bring them in the afternoon."
Thurston hadn't seen any unusual animals, save one "questionable buck," she said. So, what qualifies a buck as questionable? Thurston would rather not say.
"Hunters hold grudges," she said.
Donna Hull, who headed up the checking station at Bill's Place on the Adolph Road in Mill Creek, said turnout had been "pretty good," as of 3 p.m. Monday. By then, she'd checked in 18 deer, including one 10-point buck.
"I was really surprised with that one," she said of the 10-pointer. "We usually don't have that."
Arlington Mini-Mart in neighboring Upshur County was hopping with hunters all day Monday, said Mini-Mart employee Jaymie Perrine. As of 3:30 p.m. Monday, the checking station had logged a total of 68 deer, with the number of bucks surpassing the number of does.
"We might even get busier," said Perrine said.
At the Nestorville Service Center in Philippi, deer were likewise being checked in at a rapid pace.
"We have been so busy," said Jessica Mclean, employee of Nestorville. Mclean said approximately 177 bucks were checked in Monday, with a 12-point as the largest buck.
In Tucker County, things were somewhat slower at Calder's Custom Game Cutting in Parsons and Trailmix in Davis.
By 2 p.m., Calder's employees had seen approximately 10 deer, including an 8-point buck, said owner William Calder.
"Things are looking good, in my opinion, for the first day," he said.
James Crawford, owner of Trailmix, was also optimistic for the first day of hunting.
"We are getting a whole bunch," he said, when asked about the rate at which deer were being checked in. Crawford said approximately 20 deer were brought in by 2 p.m., the largest being a 9-point buck.
Of the 20, only three were from West Virginia, Crawford said.
"Most people are from Pennsylvania," he said, mentioning that the ratio of in-state to out-of-state hunters is typical.