The buck firearms season harvest in West Virginia was up 18 percent in 2022 compared to 2021, thanks to the weather and food availability, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
The division reports that hunters harvested 49,662 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, from Nov. 21 to Dec 4. During last year’s buck firearms season, hunters harvested 42,143, said Paul Johansen, chief of the division's Wildlife Resources section.
“We were expecting harvest numbers for the buck firearms season to be comparable to last year," Johansen said, "but mast conditions and weather favored hunters this year, and we’re thrilled that hunters all over the state were able to have a successful season.”
Harvest numbers were up across the state, Johansen said. The most significant increases were reported in West Virginia’s central and western areas, where buck harvests increased by 38 percent and 36 percent, respectively.
The top 10 counties for the 2022 buck harvest are Greenbrier (1,856), Preston (1,760), Randolph (1,667), Ritchie (1,633), Jackson (1,539), Hampshire (1,453), Mason (1,417), Kanawha (1,352), Lewis (1,270) and Pocahontas (1,196).
Deer hunting opportunities continue through the end of the year. The archery and crossbow season runs through Saturday, Dec. 31.
An antlerless deer season for youth, Class Q/QQ, and Class XS hunters will be open Dec. 26-27 in any county with a firearms deer season.
A final Class N/NN antlerless deer season will be open Dec. 28-31 in select areas.
For more information about these seasons, consult the 2022–23 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary, available at license agents around the state or online at WVDNR.gov.
Big Buck Photo Contest
Hunters are also reminded that the deadline to submit a photo to the division’s Big Buck Photo Contest is Dec. 27 at 11:59 p.m.
The contest is open to West Virginia residents and nonresidents and includes a youth division for hunters 17 and younger and an adult division for hunters 18 and older. Five youth participants will win a lifetime hunting, and fishing license, and five adults will win a lifetime hunting license or state park cabin stay.
To enter the contest, hunters must submit a photo of a buck they harvested during the 2022 hunting season, along with a short account of their hunt. Submissions may be uploaded using the Big Buck Photo Contest entry form at WVDNR.gov/photocontest. Those entering must have a valid 2022 West Virginia Hunting License and must enter the 13-digit DNR-issued game check number for their bucks.
Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License Giveaway Returns
West Virginia’s lifetime license giveaway is back for the fourth year, and hunters and anglers who purchase an annual 2023 hunting, trapping, or fishing license in the month of December will automatically be entered into a drawing for a lifetime license and other prizes.
The giveaway is open to residents and non-residents. One resident will win a lifetime hunting, trapping, and fishing license, and one non-resident will win a three-night lodge stay at Pipestem Resort State Park with two zipline tour tickets. Other prizes include state park gift cards, cabin stays, and gift bags. The prize draw is sponsored by the division and the West Virginia Department of Tourism. Winners will be announced in January 2023.
For more information about the giveaway, rules and prize descriptions, visit WVDNR.gov/licensegiveaway.