“West Virginia supports a pre-season deer population of approximately 800,000 to 900,000 animals,” says Hoy Murphy, Public Information Officer West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “From a statewide perspective, deer populations have been relatively stable over the past five years.”
“Relatively” maybe, but it’s on the increase in a number of areas across the state. Which is why the West Virginia Natural Resources Commission initiated a three-day antlerless season for late October. The season will take place on October 25, 26, and 27 this year, on private land only, in specific counties. Also, there is a new requirement in ten counties that hunters, both firearm and archery, must kill an antlerless deer before they can take a second buck.
This is the first time West Virginia has tried any sort of earn-a-buck regulation. However, in most earn-a-buck states like Wisconsin, it should be noted that hunters had to take a doe before they could harvest their first buck.
Urban deer hunts in West Virginia are being altered, too. The bag limit has been expanded in these controlled archery hunts to seven deer per season, and only two of those can be bucks. (Some cities in the urban archery hunt program had limited hunters to two deer.) If they choose to, municipalities can also open their season as early as the second Saturday in September.
Much of the state was in moderate drought by early summer, but a series of July rains put soil moisture levels pretty much back to normal. Deer forage was fair to improving as the summer went on.
The rut generally peaks in Virginia during the second week of November.
The Northeastern Regional Report
_A very mild winter (which followed a generally mild winter in 2010-2011) and average-or-better amounts of spring and summer rain this year have the Northeast region looking good this fall. States like Vermont and Maine are expecting improved harvests, as the easy winters have allowed deer herds to rebound. Except for a small pocket of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Hampshire County, West Virginia, and a limited outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in west-central New Jersey, deer here have no real health issues.
While there are still many good-size deer in the Northeast, trophy antler production has eased away from here and moved into the Midwest region. The Boone and Crockett Club’s “Trophy Whitetail Production, 2005 to 2010,” for example, doesn’t list a single Northeastern state in the top 10. Pennsylvania, at number 20 (with 26 entries), is the highest-ranked state from this region.
That said, Northern states still grow big-bodied deer. “During the 2011 season, we had 124 bucks registered that, on the hoof, would have tipped the scales at more than 250 pounds,” says Vermont deer biologist Adam Murkowski._
Top Trophy Zones
NY: Monroe, Wayne, and Suffolk counties. Comprising the eastern two-thirds of Long Island, Suffolk County produces approximately half the state’s Pope and Young records–including a 2006 buck that netted 196 2⁄8 non-typical.
NJ: Hunterdon, Monmouth, and Salem counties.
PA: Alleghany, Chester, Washington, and Beaver counties.
WV: McDowell and Wyoming counties.