WV hunters kill 56,173 bucks during 2012 gun season - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

WV hunters kill 56,173 bucks during 2012 gun season

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Hunters in West Virginia killed 56,173 bucks during the two week buck firearms season, according to preliminary data released Dec. 10 by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

The 2012 harvest for the two-week gun season, which ran from Nov. 19-Dec. 1, was approximately 7 percent lower than the 2011 season in which 60,157 bucks were killed.

Biologists with the DNR blamed hurricane-turned-superstorm Sandy for part of the decrease, saying that fallen trees in many counties made it harder for hunters to get out and about in the woods. In addition, deer had more access to acorns and other food sources, which made it harder for hunters to harvest them.

The DNR news release said harvest numbers were down in four of the DNR's six districts. The largest decreases, according to the DNR, were in western and central counties.

The top 10 counties for buck harvest were as follows: Preston (2,108), Greenbrier (1,907), Randolph (1,792), Mason (1,667), Jackson (1,662), Hampshire (1,570), Monroe (1,563), Ritchie (1,518), Wetzel (1,496) and Hardy (1,435).

The 2012 harvest was 27th among all recorded antlered buck firearm seasons. 

According to the DNR, wildlife biologists and wildlife managers collected age-specific biological information at checking stations in 24 counties this year. Preliminary analysis of information gathered at those check stations indicated antler development was good. In addition, the dry weather was 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," the news release stated. "Residual access problems associated with Hurricane Sandy, such as downed trees blocking forest roads, may have hindered the ability of some buck hunters to reach their favorite hunting spots, especially in some of the high mountain counties."

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. 

To see a county-by-county breakdown of buck-gun harvest totals from 2008-12, click here.