WEST VIRGINIA

Deer Forecast 2004 -- EAST

Outdoor Life Online Editor

This year should be an outstanding one for hunting in the Mountain State, with biologists expecting the buck harvest to climb from last year. The total take last year of 73,128 bucks was disappointing. It was the lowest number since 1993.

"I think we're going to see a significant number of older deer with big racks being taken this year," says Paul Johansen, DNR assistant chief of game management.

Statewide, the herd is estimated at 900,000, with two thirds of the counties having populations above objectives. The highest deer densities are found in the northern panhandle, as well as in parts of the northwestern and north-central regions. Brooke, Hancock and Ohio counties all yield at least seven bucks per square mile; the average for the state is just under three and a half.

Look to the southern regions for the biggest racks. The archery-only counties have been producing some truly impressive trophies. These counties include Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming, as well as Kanawha, Raleigh and Nicholas.