Hunters harvested 105,278 white-tailed deer in 2021 during the recent buck firearms, antlerless, muzzleloader, archery, crossbow, youth/Class Q/Class XS, and Mountaineer Heritage deer seasons.
The total harvest was 1.5 percent below the 2020 deer harvest of 106,861 and was less than one percent below the five-year average of 105,718, according to Paul Johansen, chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
Johansen said a breakdown of the combined 2021 deer seasons reveals a total of 42,143 bucks harvested during the traditional buck firearm season, 27,614 antlerless deer during all antlerless firearm hunting seasons, and 31,319 deer harvested during the urban and regular archery/crossbow seasons.
In addition, 3,569 deer were taken during the muzzleloader season and 633 deer with primitive bow and muzzleloader weapons during the Mountaineer Heritage season.
Antlerless Deer Season
During the 2021 antlerless deer seasons, which includes the youth/Class Q/Class XS deer season, hunters harvested 27,614 deer. The harvest was 12 percent less than 31,255 in 2020 and 10 percent below the five-year average of 30,708.
“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 Johansen.
WVDNR will hold in-person public meetings on March 14-15 for fall 2022 deer hunting regulations. The agency will solicit input on whether to increase, decrease or stabilize deer populations in each of the 51 counties where firearms deer hunting will be permitted for fall 2022.
The 2021 top-ten counties for antlerless deer harvest were Preston (1,327), Jackson (1,092), Mason (1,078), Upshur (1,048), Hampshire (1,031), Roane (945), Lewis (913), Wood (906), Monroe (891) and Ritchie (883).
Muzzleloader Deer Season
The 2021 muzzleloader harvest of 3,569, which does not include 590 deer taken with side lock and flintlock muzzleloaders in the Mountaineer Heritage season, was 32 percent below the 2020 harvest of 5,227 and was 22 percent below the five-year average of 4,600. The 2021 top-ten counties were Jackson (140), Preston (138), Braxton (133), Upshur (131), Randolph (125), Nicholas (116) Greenbrier (116), Lewis (111), Barbour (107) and Mason (107).
Archery and Crossbow Deer Season
Bow and crossbow hunters harvested 31,319 deer, which does not include 43 recurve and longbow harvested deer during Mountaineer Heritage season. The 2021 harvest was less than 1 percent below the 2020 archery and crossbow season harvest of 31,594 and 8 percent above the five-year average archery season harvest of 29,058. The proportion of the harvest taken using a crossbow increased and was higher than deer reportedly taken by a bow for the fifth year. The 2021 top-ten counties were Preston (1,257), Kanawha (1,226), Wyoming (1,170), Raleigh (1,079), Randolph (1,023), Fayette (864), Upshur (850), Wood (844), Mercer (814) and Jackson (802).