W.Va. deer harvest shoots up

December 09, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - State wildlife officials say they are seeing an increase in the number of deer being killed this year, which they attribute to a healthy deer population that is enjoying a bountiful food supply and mild weather.

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About 2,287 deer have been killed in the Eastern Panhandle this season, up 243 from the 2,044 that were bagged last year, said Scott Warner, a biologist for the state Department of Natural Resources.

Statewide, about 89,900 have been killed, an increase of about 20 percent over last year, Warner said.

DNR biologists estimate there were 800,000 deer in the state before the season began, Warner said.

There are several reasons the numbers were higher, Warner said.

First, there was plenty of food for deer during last year's hunting season, which enabled deer to stay in rural, remote areas. If food is scarce, deer tend to move closer to populated areas - and into a hunter's range - to look for food, according to Warner.


Then last year's mild winter reduced the number of deer that would have normally fallen victim to the bad weather, Warner said.

In Berkeley County, 820 deer have been killed, up from the 718 killed last year. The number of deer killed in Jefferson County dipped slightly from 531 to 512 this year; and in Morgan County, the kill went from 795 last year to 955 this year, Warner said.

In Morgan County, a six-day antlerless deer season was blended with the buck season this year to thin deer populations.

West Virginia's two-week buck season ended last Saturday. Although that is the most popular season, the state's antlerless season runs through this Saturday. Then a six-day muzzleloader season opens on Monday, Warner said.

The increase in deer kills has kept meat processing shops and game checking stations busy.

Sylvia Barnhart of Barnhart's Beef and Pork kept busy processing deer Thursday just as she has for the past 30 years at her shop in Hedgesville, W.Va.

"We've probably worked up 75 or 80 and we still have them coming in," Barnhart said.

About five deer a day were being checked in at D.J.'s Leetown Market in Leetown, W.Va., during the buck season, but that number has jumped to about 10 a day since the antlerless season started, said employee Josh Smith.

Smith said he did not know what was causing the increase.

Bob Buracker said he doesn't know how many deer he processed at his shop on Paynes Ford Road, but he guessed it was about 200.

"It gets so busy you don't have time to pay attention," Buracker said.

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