Last Friday, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources released the preliminary figures for the two-week deer buck firearms season.
Chances are, this was released about the same time I sent last week's article to The Inter-Mountain.
These preliminary figures are collected from all of the game check-in stations throughout the state. This year, West Virginia hunters harvested 56,333 bucks during the two-week gun season which ran from Nov. 25-Dec. 7. This is up from the 2012 official harvest of 56,276, or one-tenth (0.1) of one percent. For all practical purposes, this year's harvest figure is very similar to last years.
However, there are considerable variations in the biological regions with decreases in four of the DNR districts that offset the increases in the remaining two DNR districts. The top five counties for the buck harvest are as follows: Jackson (1,914, Ritchie (1,909), Roane (1,878), Preston (1,753) and Lewis (1,685).
Remember, these are only the preliminary figures. The official harvest figures will be released sometime in February or March. There will most likely be some increase in all the harvest figures and where a certain county places among the 51 counties where the deer buck firearm season was open. This year's buck harvest was 27th highest among all the recorded firearms seasons.
Randolph County finished 17th with a buck harvest of 1,328, down from 1,804 in 2012, or 26 percent.
The inclement weather for the first three days and less hunter participation could be the leading reason for this decline.
The bad weather not only holds true for Randolph County, but all of the mountain and northern panhandle counties as well. It is well known the weather is a crucial factor as to what the deer harvest figure will be in any given season or year.
On the opening day in Randolph County, I think many hunters stayed indoors or maybe in bed with the single digit temperatures we were having. Wild animals just don't stir around to any real extent when weather conditions are like that.
This area of the state is just not getting the number of hunters from out of state or from other parts of West Virginia like we did twenty to thirty years ago. The reason for this is because deer hunting is just as good in the Western counties. The high price of gasoline is also discouraging. People don't want to spend a lot of money on hunting trips during the holiday season.
The harvest figure that caught my eye was the one in Kanawha County at 1,370.
I never thought I would see the day when a deer season harvest figure in that county would exceed the one in Randolph County. I should find it interesting how the DNR is going to conduct the antlerless season in Kanawha County next year.
The Director of the WVDNR, Frank Jezioro, reminds hunters there are several days of deer hunting remaining for 2013. The antlerless deer gun season was scheduled to reopen on Thursday and conclude today on private and public land. The youth Class Q/QQ and Class XS deer season (antlerless deer only) will be open Thursday and Friday, Dec. 26-27, in any county with a deer firearms season. This will be followed by a reopening of the Class N/NN antlerless deer season on Dec. 28 in counties or portions of counties open for the 2013 antlerless season.
In closing, I would like to wish all my readers a joyful holiday season and please do all of your celebrating in a responsible manner. The West Virginia State Police when they do their sobriety checking have already announced, " If you are over the limit, you will be under arrest" Another thing to remember is the seat belt law whether you like it or not, it's still "click it or ticket."