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Opening day cold, but successful

November 21, 2000

Opening day cold, but successful



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Deer hunters took to the West Virginia woods Monday for the first day of buck season, and game checking stations were busy throughout the day recording successful kills.

Temperatures were a bit colder this year than in recent years, and hunters shivered through a brief snow shower around noon.

"It was freezing cold," said Jerry Rouss after returning from Shannondale Springs Wildlife Management Area, where he bagged a six-point buck.

Rouss said the state public hunting area, along the Shenandoah River southeast of Charles Town, was full of hunters Monday and he considered himself lucky to have taken down a deer.

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At the Shanghai Grocery in Back Creek Valley in Berkeley County, employees were busy checking deer after sundown Monday.

At least 85 deer had been checked in, and store employee Sandra Ramey was convinced the number would top 90, the number of deer that were taken to the store on the first day of hunting season last year.

The biggest deer taken to the store Monday had eight points, Ramey said.

Ramey said it seemed to be a typical first day, except for the weather.

"It was just cold compared to the last couple years," she said.

At the Tomahawk Valley Store in Berkeley County, about 38 deer had been checked in as of nightfall, said employee Patty Baugher. The largest had eight points, she said.

Some hunters said they thought there may have been fewer hunters in the woods Monday, Baugher said.

No hunting accidents had been reported to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources as of Monday afternoon, said DNR spokeswoman Kim Hannas.

In some parts of the state, deer hunting is so popular that some businesses close.

"It's the most popular sport in West Virginia," said Larry Berry, a DNR wildlife biologist in Beckley. "It's the Super Bowl, World Series and the Final Four all rolled into one."

Hunters packed stores over the weekend to grab up licenses, clothing, mandatory blaze-orange gear, guns and ammunition, food and film to record their prizes.

"It's like this every year," said Russ Smarr of the Angler's Roost in Mink Shoals, Kanawha County. "Everybody waits until the last minute."

From dealers to corner grocery stores, hunting brings in an estimated $240 million annually to the state's economy, DNR officials say.

Schools in many of the state's 55 counties are closed all week and construction work has slowed down. In many households, deer hunting is as much a tradition as turkey on Thanksgiving and visiting grandmother's house on Christmas.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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