The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has released the Buck Season preliminary data collected from checking stations across the state and 56,333 bucks were taken during the two week long firearm season this year. There wasn’t much difference from last year when hunters took 56,276 bucks during the 2012 season.
However the WVDNR states that “ This year’s overall buck harvest is essentially the same as last year’s, but varied considerably by region, with decreases occurring in four DNR districts offset by increases in harvest in two DNR districts. The largest percent increases occurred in the western counties of the state while the buck harvest in the mountain and northern panhandle counties decreased.”
Tucker County was definitely one of those mountain counties that saw another decrease with 512 bucks taken this year. Tucker County has seen a steady decline over the past 5 years. In 2009 Tucker County hunters took 874 bucks; 743 in 2010; 738 in 2011; 640 in 2012; and down to 512 this year. Other surrounding mountain counties saw a decrease as well. Preston County saw a decline of 368 fewer bucks taken this year versus last, but still managed to finish 4th in the state with 1,753 bucks harvested. Randolph County dropped almost 500 from 1,804 bucks in 2012 to 1,328 this year.
Pendleton County saw a decrease of 200 fewer bucks taken this year than last. Weather can play a key role in the final tallies as it’s estimated that 80 percent of the total bucks harvested are taken during the first 3 days of the season. The weather was ideal on Monday but not so much on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tuesday provided an all-day rain event followed by an all-day wet snow on Wednesday. I definitely didn’t hear near as many shots as I normally do those first 3 days. The end of the week calmed down and the amount of shots heard picked up. I was fortunate to finally get a chance and take the big buck I was after on Thanksgiving Day thanks to Wednesday’s snowfall. The lack of mast made the deer stay in the fields and become more visible to hunter’s this year. I also noticed that the rut wasn’t as intense this year and have heard others say the same thing. It just seemed the deer were more concerned with feeding and fattening up for winter than running and chasing hard. Sure I saw a few bucks following does, but not with the intensity they normally have. There’s one last chance to fill the freezer with the two day youth antlerless season on Dec. 26 & 27.
This would be the perfect chance for the young ones to get out and try that new rifle they may have gotten for Christmas while spending quality time with family in the outdoors. The second part of the split antlerless season takes place on Dec. 28 and the 30 – 31.
Just make sure you take a close look and make sure it’s an antlerless deer you’re shooting at as some of the bucks are dropping their antlers. It’s not illegal to shoot a buck that has already dropped, but it would be a shame to take a buck you were hoping to let go and grow bigger next year this late in the season.
I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.