SOUTH CHARLESTON — According to a release from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR), Mason County hunters harvested 1,677 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, ranking Mason County as the fourth highest harvest.
In previous years, Mason County hunters harvested 1,944 bucks in 2011, 1,298 bucks in 2010, 2,099 bucks in 2009, and 1,892 buck in 2008, according to the DNR.
According to Frank Jezioro, director of the DNR, preliminary data collected from game checking stations across the state indicate deer hunters in West Virginia harvested a total of 56,173 bucks during the buck season, which ran from Nov. 19 through Dec. 1.
The release continued, saying the 2012 buck harvest was seven percent less than the 2011 harvest of 60,157. Other West Virginia counties in the top 10 counties for buck harvest were as follows: Preston (2,108), Greenbrier (1,907), Randolph (1,792), Jackson (1,662), Hampshire (1,570), Monroe (1,563), Ritchie (1,518), Wetzel (1,496) and Hardy (1,435).
According to the DNR, this year’s buck harvest is slightly less than last year, with decreases occurring in four of the six DNR districts. The largest percent decreases occurred in the western and central counties of the state. The harvest was 27th among all recorded antlered buck firearm seasons. This year’s preliminary buck harvest remains seven percent below the previous five-year average of 60,236.
The release also stated that wildlife biologists and wildlife managers collected age-specific biological information at checking stations in 24 counties this year and preliminary analysis indicated that antler development was good. The dry weather was reportedly good for hunter participation this year but made moving in the woods noisy. Deer densities that were more in balance with the habitat in many areas, combined with the better-than-average acorn crop that allowed deer to frequent open fields less frequently, made this year’s deer season challenging for many hunters, according to the DNR. Residual access problems associated with Hurricane Sandy, such as downed trees blocking forest roads, also may have hindered the ability of some buck hunters to reach their favorite hunting spots, especially in some of the high mountain counties.
It was also reported that wildlife biologists will analyze data from the combined 2012 deer seasons (i.e., buck, antlerless, archery and muzzleloader) before making appropriate recommendations for next year’s deer hunting seasons. These recommendations will be available for public review at 12 regulations meetings scheduled for March 18 and 19, 2013.