SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Deer hunters in West Virginia have had a very good year, according to officials at the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources.
According to preliminary numbers released by the division, hunters harvested 118,606 deer during the 2022–2023 seasons, which is a 12.7 percent increase over the 2021 harvest and 12.2 percent above the five-year average of 105,718.
Division director Brett McMillion lauded the bountiful harvest as an endorsement of the state's fame as a destination for good deer hunting.
“From the start of the archery and crossbow seasons in September to our Mountaineer Heritage season in January and everything in between, West Virginia has some of the most incredible deer hunting opportunities in the eastern United States,” McMillion said.
“We’re excited to announce a good harvest this year, and we’re so encouraged to see hunters and their families getting out more and more each year and enjoying so much success in the field.”
Division biologists report that the harvest can be attributed to favorable weather, poorer mast conditions in 2022, and a slightly lower overall deer harvest during the 2021 seasons, which resulted in more deer being available.
McMillion said a breakdown of the combined 2022 deer seasons reveals that hunters harvested 48,938 bucks during the traditional buck firearm season, 31,669 antlerless deer during all antlerless firearm hunting opportunities, 32,850 deer during urban and regular archery and crossbow seasons, 4,566 deer during the muzzleloader season and 583 deer during the Mountaineer Heritage season.
West Virginia Buck Firearms Season
During West Virginia’s two-week buck firearms season from Nov. 21 – Dec. 4, hunters harvested 48,938 bucks, an increase of 18 percent over the 2021 harvest. The largest increases were reported in West Virginia's central and western areas, where buck harvests increased 39 and 36 percent, respectively. The top ten buck harvest counties in 2022 were 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).
West Virginia Antlerless Deer Season
During the 2022 antlerless deer season, which includes the youth, Class Q, and Class XS deer season, hunters harvested 31,669 deer, an increase of 14.7 percent compared to the 2021 harvest of 27,614 and 3.1 percent above the five-year average of 30,708.
Paul Johansen, chief of the division’s wildlife resources section, said the antlerless harvest is vital in West Virginia.
“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
The top ten antlerless deer harvest counties in 2022 were Preston (1,523), Jackson (1,327), Lewis (1,255), Mason (1,250), Ritchie (1,246), Upshur (1,241), Wood (1,070), Hampshire (1,063), Roane (939) and Monroe (870).
West Virginia Muzzleloader Deer Season
Hunters harvested 4,566 deer during the 2022 muzzleloader season, which is a 9.8 percent increase over the 2021 harvest of 4,159, but 3.2 percent below the five-year average of 4,718. The muzzleloader deer season harvest does not include the deer taken with side lock and flintlock muzzleloaders during the Mountaineer Heritage season. The top ten muzzleloader deer harvest counties were Preston (204), Randolph (193), Nicholas (188), Greenbrier (166), Upshur (155), Jackson (153), Lewis (139), Wood (139), Braxton (138) and Mason (133).
West Virginia Archery and Crossbow Deer Seasons
Hunters harvested 32,850 deer with bows and crossbows in 2022, a 4.7 percent increase over the 2021 harvest of 31,362 and 13 percent above the five-year average of 29,067. The archery and crossbow harvest does not include the 37 deer taken with recurves and longbows during the Mountaineer Heritage season. The top ten archery deer harvest counties are Preston (1,557), Kanawha (1,166), Randolph (1,090), Wyoming (1,053), Raleigh (1,046), Wood (984) Upshur (962), Jackson (950), Fayette (945) and Mason (828).