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West Virginia deer season opens

November 22, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION and DON AINESs

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - It didn't take long for Harry Dinterman to spot his first buck on the first day of West Virginia's deer hunting season Monday.

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Dinterman was crouched at the edge of a cedar grove at the Gruber Farm near Middleway when an eight-point buck crossed into a field about 9 a.m.

Dinterman raised his .35-caliber rifle and fired.

He missed, apparently shooting over the head of the deer.

"I'm getting old," joked Dinterman, 62, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

But Dinterman got another chance.

At about 12:45 p.m., another buck walked into the field, only to fall prey to Dinterman's marksmanship.

After he killed the second buck, Dinterman said he was sort of glad he ended up with the smaller deer.

He had to drag the buck about 1 1/2 miles, and unseasonable temperatures reaching about 70 degrees didn't help.


"My clothes are still soaking wet," Dinterman said as he stared at the buck inside the trunk of his car at D.J.'s Leetown Market in Leetown, W.Va.

"I'd drag it awhile and sit awhile. He killed me," said Dinterman.

Dinterman joined thousands of hunters who entered the woods to bag a buck on the first day of rifle season.

Despite foggy conditions in the morning that may have hampered hunting efforts, deer kills were going at a brisk pace. Large deer were being tagged at game checking stations around the Eastern Panhandle, and deer kills seemed to be meeting or beating the number recorded on the first day last year, according to Tom Allen, wildlife biologist for the Wildlife Resource Section of the state Department of Natural Resources in Charleston, W.Va.

About 70 deer are usually checked in on the first day at D.J.'s Leetown Market, and by mid-afternoon about 59 had been brought in, said store spokesman Harry Everhart.

"I have a feeling Thanksgiving will be a lot busier," said Everhart.

At Bob's Processing off Paynes Ford Road near Martinsburg, W.Va., workers were already at work skinning deer and hanging the carcasses on a rail leading into a cooler. Hides were piled on the floor of the shop and about 25 deer were scattered on the ground outside waiting to be butchered.

"They're still coming in. This evening, we'll get another rush I'm sure," said Barbara Buracker, who runs the shop with her husband, Bob.

West Virginia was the first state in the Tri-State area to kick off the buck rifle season.

Maryland will start its season Saturday and Pennsylvania on Monday.

Although deer kills were steady, the numbers seemed to fluctuate at some checking stations. About 100 deer are usually checked in at Sparks Sport Center off Wheatland Street in Martinsburg, said owner Dick Pharr.

Pharr said he was checking in deer so fast at the end of the day that he couldn't keep track, but he thought the final number was between 50 and 60.

Had it been a frosty morning without fog, it's likely the numbers would have been higher, Pharr said.

"It probably would have been a record day," Pharr said.

Deer are more likely to bed down on unseasonably warm days, hunters said.

A little farther west in the village of Shanghai, workers at the Shanghai Grocery were busy all day checking in deer. By the end of the day, 90 had been brought to the country store, up five over last year, said store employee Dana Myers.

Local wildlife expert Larry Hines stopped by the store to see how the deer looked, and said he was generally impressed.

Two years ago, nut-bearing trees in the state produced fewer nuts, resulting in fewer deer in the 1 1/2 year age range, said Hines, wildlife manager of the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area near Jones Springs, W.Va.

Overall, the deer being hauled out of the woods Monday were heavier and had larger racks, said Hines.

"We really didn't know what to expect," Hines said.

This past summer's drought did not seem to have any effect on the deer population, DNR officials said.

Big business

Deer hunting is big business in the Mountain State. The sport pumps about $248 million into West Virginia's economy every season, and about 300,000 hunting licenses are sold annually, Allen said. About 10,000 of the licenses are sold in the Eastern Panhandle.

Last year, 75,674 bucks were killed during the 12-day season, 718 of those in Berkeley County. Hunters bagged 795 deer in Morgan County and 531 in Jefferson County. In Morgan County, a six-day antlerless deer season is blended with the buck season to thin deer populations, Allen said.

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