(WTRF) West Virginia is known as wild and wonderful. The beautiful state offers mountains and valleys, rivers and streams, and big game for trophy hunters.

There are four species of big game that are native to West Virginia according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Hunters flock to the state each season to take their top prize: the white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and wild boar.

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed deer bucks

The most sought-after big game species is the white-tailed deer. Every year more than 200,000 thousand hunters seek out whitetails. White-tailed deer are found in every county and every habitat in West Virginia. Deer season spans four months and the species can be found everywhere from backyards to deep woods.

Hunters looking to get that trophy buck can visit an “older-age deer management area”. Bucks in these areas must have a 14-inch antler spread to be legal to hunt. West Virginia also hosts “archery-only” locations where large-antlered bucks are harvested every year.

Specific hunting season dates, bag limits, and other information can be found in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.

Black Bear

Black bear

One of the most successful conservation stories in West Virginia is the growth and expansion of the black bear. In the early 1970s, black bears were limited to parts of ten of the eastern mountain counties and believed to be numbered fewer than 500. Changes to hunting seasons, along with matured forests have allowed the black bear population to expand, the number of bears in the state is now believed to be 15,000. Bears can be found in 53 of the state’s 55 counties.

Bear season in West Virginia begins in late August and continues until early January, offering one of the most liberal bear hunting opportunities. Specific hunting season dates, bag limits, and other information can be found in the link mentioned above.

Wild Turkey

Another conservation success story is the wild turkey. Wild turkeys were once restricted to the most remote regions of the eastern mountain counties due to logging and fires that were common in the early 1900s. Early research showed wild-trapped birds were superior to pen-raised stock for establishing wild turkey populations. The first trapped wild birds were released in Coopers Rock State Forest in 1950, this helped establish the turkey population.

Wild Turkey

Wildlife biologists used a trapping method using mortar and rocket-propelled nets to successfully trap and relocate the wild birds to more suitable habitats around the state. By 1989, the trap-and-transfer program was completed and turkeys were established in all 55 counties of West Virginia.

There are many different options available when it comes to hunting wild turkeys, hunting season dates, bag limits, and other information that can also be found in the link above.

Wild Boar

Wild boar

In the spring of 1971 European wild boar were released in Boone County. The animals were originally released to provide residents of southern West Virginia with a big game species to hunt when deer, bear, and turkey were scarce. It was originally thought that the species would populate quickly like feral swine, but they did not stray far from their original release location.

Hunting season for wild boar is limited to Boone, Logan Raleigh, and Wyoming counties and is limited to residents only. Specific hunting season dates, bag limits, and other information can be found in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary