By Chris Ellis
For The Register-Herald
Monday is the start of the largest single-day sporting event in West Virginia — the opening day of firearm buck season. Tomorrow morning, droves of hunter orange-clothed participants will watch a new day being born in hopes that a trophy deer will wander by. Chances are you or someone in your household will be directly involved in the deer season or at least chances are you know someone who is. So when the contractor doesn’t show up to fix the leak in the basement or won’t return your calls, you’ll know why.
As a resource for the deer gun season opening this week, I thought it might be helpful to pull a few details from the WVDNR’s 2013 Deer Gun Seasons Fact Sheet.
--- The West Virginia buck firearms season is Nov. 25-Dec. 7. It is open in all counties except Logan, Mingo, McDowell and Wyoming.
--- Approximately 330,000 deer hunters will be in West Virginia’s woods during this season.
--- Deer hunters spend an estimated $230 million in West Virginia, much of it in the rural areas of the state that depend upon the deer seasons for a large portion of their annual income.
--- A list of official game checking stations in West Virginia can be found online at www.wvdnr.gov/hunting/
--- The buck deer bag limit during the two-week buck firearms season is two (one on the base license and one on an RG [resident] or RRG [nonresident] stamp). A hunter may take no more than three antlered deer per calendar year in all archery and firearms seasons combined.
--- The last day to purchase an additional buck deer gun tag (Class RG/RRG Stamp) is Nov. 24 (today). Class RG and Class RRG additional buck stamps can only be used to take an additional antlered deer in buck firearms season. Unused Class RG and Class RRG stamps may not be used in antlerless or muzzleloader seasons.
--- Antlerless deer hunting is legal on private land in 51 counties or portions thereof and select public lands on Nov. 25-Dec. 7, concurrent with the buck firearms season, with valid stamps.
--- There are 23 counties that require buck firearms hunters to take an antlerless deer during the antlerless firearms deer season prior to harvesting a second antlered deer during the buck firearms season. Deer taken on a base license or license/stamp combination or Class RG or RRG stamps may be checked in any order.
--- A hunter may harvest two deer per day, but only one antlered deer may be harvested per day. The first deer does not have to be legally checked in prior to harvesting the second deer on the same day. However, all deer must be checked in before hunting during a subsequent day.
--- Concurrent with the buck gun season will be a bear gun season in 29 counties. A limited bear hunt will be held on private land only in 19 of these counties. Prior application was required in these counties. Resident landowners do not need a permit to hunt on their own land in the limited hunt.
--- In 2012, hunters in West Virginia harvested 56,276 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, which is six percent less than the 2011 harvest of 60,157 and is six percent below the previous five-year average of 60,236.
--- WVDNR forecasts that the buck firearms season harvest should be similar to the 2012 harvest and the overall deer harvest should be higher in 2013. Wildlife Resources Section employees working game checking stations in 2012 noticed an increase in the number of large antlered deer being checked in. Data indicate that the age structure of harvested bucks has shifted over time to include a lower percentage of yearling animals and a higher number of mature bucks. Hunters appear to be passing up younger animals for the chance at more mature animals. This will lead to an increased number of larger bucks in the harvest.
--- As of July 1, Sunday hunting is legal in the following 14 counties on private land only: Boone, Brooke, Clay, Hancock, Jefferson, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell, Marshall, Mingo, Ohio, Wayne, Wetzel and Wyoming. Hunters should contact county officials within the county they are planning to hunt to check on the status of Sunday hunting as this list is subject to change. The only Sunday that is open in these counties during the buck season is Dec. 1. Hunters are reminded that deer gun seasons are closed in Logan, Mingo, McDowell and Wyoming counties.
--- Hunters are required to wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange (about the size of a vest) as an outer garment for visibility and safety. Blaze orange camouflage patterns are legal as long as 400 square inches of blaze orange are displayed on the garment. A blaze orange hat is not required, but the hunter must have blaze orange visible from both the front and the back.
n Hunting licenses may be purchased online at any time and printed out on a home computer printer. Go to the goWILD! website at www.wvhunt.com, fill out the application and purchase it over a secure server with a credit card.
--- Hunters who wish to donate deer meat or dollars to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program, which distributes deer meat through the Mountaineer Food Bank and the Huntington Food Bank, should call 304-558-2771 or visit the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov to find a participating meat processor.
Be safe and enjoy nature’s bounty.
Hunters should review the 2013-2014 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary for detailed instructions concerning bag limits and season dates. The regulations are available at license agents, DNR district offices or online at www.wvdnr.gov.