West Virginia deer harvest down nine percent in 2019-20

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West Virginia deer harvest down nine percent in 2019-20
White-tailed deer in West Virginia. (Photo: Steve Shaluta)

Preliminary counts indicate hunters harvested 99,437 white-tailed deer in West Virginia during the 2019-20 seasons, according to the state Division of Natural Resources.

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The harvest was nine percent below the 2018 harvest of 108,856 deer and 13 percent below the five-year average of 114,520.

A breakdown of the combined 2019-20 deer seasons reveals 36,472 bucks were harvested during the traditional buck firearm season, 28,336 antlerless deer were killed during all antlerless firearm seasons, 29,508 deer were harvested by bows and crossbows, 4,522 deer were taken by muzzleloader hunters, and 599 deer were taken with primitive bow and muzzleloader weapons during Mountaineer Heritage season in January 2020.

Antlerless Deer Season

The 2019 antlerless deer harvest, which includes those taken during the youth/Class Q/Class XS deer season, was 13 percent less than 32,571 in 2018 and 21 percent below the five-year average of 36,082.

“It is important to note that the antlerless harvest is the key component to any deer management strategy, as it controls the future deer population,” said Paul Johansen, chief of the Wildlife Resources Section.

The top 10 counties were: Preston (1,663), Upshur (1,196), Ritchie (1,108), Lewis (1,075), Hampshire (966), Roane (940), Monroe (938), Jackson (907), Barbour (873) and Wood (866).

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Hunters are reminded that the DNR will hold 12 public meetings across the state on March 16 and 17 to gather comments on fall 2020 antlerless deer hunting seasons in each of the 51 counties where firearms deer hunting is permitted.

Locations for the meetings may be found on page 10 of the West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations found .

Muzzleloader Deer Season

The 2019 muzzleloader harvest of 4,522 deer, which does not include 570 deer taken with side-lock and flintlock muzzleloaders in the Mountaineer Heritage season, was 7 percent more than the 2018 harvest of 4,234, and 7 percent below the five-year average of 4,839. The top 10 counties were: Preston (235), Randolph (234), Nicholas (173), Braxton (165), Upshur (150), Jackson (146), Fayette (145), Greenbrier (139), Webster (137) and Lewis (120).

Archery and Crossbow Deer Season

The bow and crossbow harvest of 29,508 deer, which does not include 29 recurve and longbow harvested deer in the Mountaineer Heritage season, was 11 percent more than the 2018 harvest of 26,613 and 10 percent above the five-year average of 26,833.

The proportion of the harvest taken using a crossbow increased and was greater than deer reportedly taken by a bow for the third year. The top 10 counties were: Preston (1,680), Randolph (1,139), Kanawha (998), Raleigh (979), Wyoming (969), Upshur (947), Fayette (897), Mercer (763), Nicholas (743) and Wood (714).

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