The opening of West Virginia's archery and crossbow deer season is still a few weeks away, but hunters can get in the woods as early as September 5 when special deer archery hunts open in municipalities around the state.
These urban deer archery hunts—coordinated by cities, towns, homeowner associations, and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources—provide additional hunting opportunities and help control deer populations.
The season will run through Dec. 31 and will include a split on January 11-31, 2021, according to Chris Ryan, a wildlife biologist for the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources.
"The urban deer archery season is really popular because it starts three weeks before the regular archery season and gives hunters extra time to bag a deer," Ryan said.
"And one of my favorite things is that you can set up a tree stand not far from your house so you can hunt in the morning and again in the evening when you get home from work."
In addition to providing more time to hunt, the urban archery deer season gives hunters an opportunity to harvest seven extra deer, which don't count against their regular archery and crossbow harvest limit, Ryan said.
Hunters should note that no more than two antlered bucks can be taken during this special season and the first deer must be antlerless, he said.
"Being able to take those extra deer means you can have a direct impact on your area by helping control the deer population," Ryan said.
"It's also a great way to fill your freezer with meat and donate any leftovers to Hunters Helping the Hungry or a local charity that accepts wild game."
Harvesting antlerless deer with a firearm may be one of the best ways hunters help control population, but hunting with a firearm in an urban or suburban environment is usually not safe and the population can grow out of control.
"As deer populations grew, we saw an increase in vehicle collisions and got complaints from homeowners," Ryan said.
"By allowing hunters to come in and harvest deer in these areas, they can help alleviate the problem in their community."
To participate in the urban deer archery season, hunters must first purchase a hunting license. Deer hunting regulations set by the WVDNR still apply, and hunters are encouraged to contact their local officials to see if their city, town, or homeowners association has adopted special regulations or lottery requirements.
To learn more about West Virginia's hunting regulations, visit wvdnr.gov/hunting/hunting_regs. To purchase a hunting license, visit wvhunt.com.