Preliminary counts indicate hunters harvested 108,160 white-tailed deer in West Virginia during the 2017 seasons. The annual harvest was 4 percent below the 2016 harvest of 112,384 deer, and 15 percent below the five-year average of 127,803.
A breakdown of the combined 2017 deer seasons reveals 44,127 bucks were harvested during the traditional buck firearm season, 33,584 antlerless deer were killed during all antlerless firearm seasons, 26,206 deer were harvested by bows and crossbows, and 4,243 deer were taken by muzzleloader hunters.
The 2017 antlerless deer harvest, which includes those taken during the youth/Class Q/Class XS deer season, was 3.5 percent less than in 2016 and 22 percent below the five-year average of 43,145.
“It is important to note that the antlerless harvest is the key component to any deer management strategy, as it controls the future deer population,” said Paul Johansen, Wildlife Resources Section chief.
The top 10 counties were Preston (1,703), Upshur (1,300), Ritchie (1,290), Lewis (1,258), Jackson (1,122), Roane (1,101), Wood (1,087), Braxton (1,083), Mason (1,052), and Harrison (1,014).
Hunters are reminded the DNR will hold 12 public meetings across the state March 12 and 13 to gather comments on fall 2018 antlerless deer hunting seasons in each of the 51 counties where firearms deer hunting is permitted.
The 2017 muzzleloader harvest of 4,243 was 15 percent below the 2016 harvest of 4,997, and 26 percent below the five-year average of 5,768. The top 10 counties were Preston (203), Randolph (194), Upshur (163), Nicholas (162), Lewis (146), Jackson (138), Greenbrier (130), Braxton (127), Harrison (126), and Fayette (124).
The bow and crossbow harvest of 26,206 deer was 1.2 percent less than the 2016 harvest of 26,524, and 4 percent below the five-year average of 27,420. Archery harvests are affected by hard mast crops. The average acorn crop in 2016, followed by a better-than-average acorn crop in 2017, likely contributed to the slightly lower 2017 harvest.
More deer were harvested with a crossbow than in past years. For the first time, more deer were taken with a crossbow than a bow. The top 10 counties were Preston (1,469), Kanawha (894), Randolph (883), Wyoming (824), Raleigh (789), Fayette (765), Wood (738), Greenbrier (722), Upshur (694), and Monongalia (694).