Wood County deer harvest up 22 percent

PARKERSBURG -Over 1,100 more white-tailed deer were harvested in Wood County in 2013 than the year before.

According to deer harvest totals released this week by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, statewide the deer harvest exceeded 150,000 for the 2013 bucks-only, antlerless, muzzleloader, archery and youth seasons combined, an increase of 14 percent over 2012.

In Wood County, the total was 4,898, a 22.4 percent jump. Jeff McCrady, wildlife biologist for West Virginia DNR Division VI, said multiple factors contributed.

“A lot of it has to do with the weather. We had a really cold opening day,” he said.

That likely made hunting more appealing to folks who like to let the meat sit a while before processing the deer, McCrady said.

“A lot of the hunters are of the opinion that it makes the meat taste a little better,” he said.

Thanksgiving is already a popular hunting day, but having snow cover on the ground this year made it easier to spot deer, McCrady said. Another element was a poor mast year, meaning the animals’ food supply- like acorns and other nuts- was somewhat limited.

“If they can’t find it, of course, they move around a lot more,” McCrady said.

The greatest number of deer in Wood County, 2,220, was harvested during the antlerless season, which overlapped with the buck season from Nov. 25 to Dec. 7, in addition to sessions from Oct. 24-26, Dec. 19-21 and 28-31. That was the fourth-highest antlerless total in the state.

There were 1,608 animals harvested during buck season. Wood County’s archery season total of 872 deer was the fifth highest in the state. The tally for muzzleloader season was 198.

West Virginia has employed liberal hunting regulations in recent years to help decrease the size of the deer herd statewide, McCrady said. Studies have shown deer in the state are smaller than they were 30 or 40 years ago, and that’s believed to be a nutritional issue – more deer means less food to go around.

This year was the first year hunters in archery season had to kill a doe before they could harvest a second buck, McCrady noted.