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Hunters rifling through West Virginia for bucks

CHARLESTON — The 2020 Firearms Buck Season started Monday and state Division of Natural Resources Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section Paul Johansen is expecting a bigger number of hunters participating and the number of bucks killed to be on the up during the two-week season.

Seeing a decrease of bucks killed last fall leading to a bigger deer population, the state will have a healthy and robust deer population for this hunting season and with expecting more hunters participating this season due to being held inside for most of the year due to COVID-19, Johansen said there should be a rise in bucks killed this season.

“A lot of those bucks rolled over in the population and were available this year. In other words, they weren’t harvested last year, they made it through the winter, in good shape,” he said. “They’re out on the landscape this year, and they’ll be available for hunters. I think we’re going to see a significant number of hunters out probably above a more typical year, just taking advantage of being able to get out of the house and enjoy a little bit of time off. So, we are expecting good participation from our hunters this year,” Johansen said.

The busiest time of the season is the first two days when the season opens. Johansen then said that while there could be a rise of hunters on Thanksgiving and the long weekend, it will not match the numbers of hunters at the start.

Another factor in the number of hunters will be how big of a role the weather conditions will play, according to Johansen.

Going through Dec. 6, new to this year is that there will be an extra Sunday available for hunting since the hunting season normally ended on Saturday in the past.

Col. Jerry Jenkins, chief of the law enforcement section of the WVDNR, said there was only one accident that occurred on Monday, involving a man falling out of a tree stand in Upshur County. The individual was conscious and flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital. Falling out of tree stands is the most commonly occurring hunting accident, according to Jenkins.

No other accident has been reported as of 4 p.m. Monday.

Jenkins also said hunters should take their cell phones with them in case an accident occurs. However, Jenkins did say that some areas in the state have zero coverage for cell service, so hunters should plan around that. Hunters should also let someone else know about their hunting plans if they plan to hunt by themselves as well.

“It’s always good to have a cell phone. If you’re hunting in an area where you have coverage, in case something would happen, or you’d run into something you can call for assistance. But unfortunately, in a lot of places in West Virginia, the coverage is not that great,” Jenkins said. “Always let someone else know where you’re going if you’re hunting by yourself. Let them know your hunting plan, where you plan to be, and when you plan to come back. So in case you don’t come back, someone knows where to let us know to start looking for you.”

Hunters are encouraged to wear blaze orange vests to be better seen by other hunters.

Hunters should know that having a loaded gun in a vehicle is illegal and could be dangerous for one’s safety. Jenkins said if the gun is left in the vehicle, the gun could roll around and go off in the individual’s vehicle, potentially leading to harm.

Contact Tyler Bennett at tbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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