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Checking stations busy on opening day of deer season

November 26, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - If the parking lot of Spark's Sport Center on Monday afternoon was any indication of how successful deer hunters will be this year, it could be a big season for the sport.

It was only mid-afternoon and Dick Pharr, co-owner of the sporting center, had already broken a record for the most deer checked in at his store off Wheatland Street on the first day of deer season.

Pharr said he had checked at least 90 deer, the most he has seen in the 29 years he has been in business.

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The highest number of deer checked at the store previously would have been between 75 to 80, said Pharr, who owns the store with his mother.

"I think we have a good chance of getting a record harvest," Pharr said.

Pickup trucks pulled into the parking lot of Spark's carrying up to two deer each. Some were big animals with up to 13-point antlers and weighing an estimated 165 pounds.

There are plenty of deer around the state, but Tommy Bageant said they do not compare to the "farm deer" that are found in the agricultural areas in Berkeley and Jefferson counties.

Deer living around local farms in the summer easily fatten up on a diet of corn, soy beans and winter wheat, said Bageant, of Falling Waters, W.Va.

It has been a good deer hunting year for Bageant.

Bageant killed a 16-point buck during bow season, which started in October, and Monday morning he shot a 5-point buck while hunting with his friend Bill Miller on a farm in Shenandoah Junction, W.Va.

Miller, of Martinsburg, W.Va., shot an 8-point buck on the farm. That deer weighed close to 165 pounds.

Bageant and Miller were waiting for deer in their deer stands early in the morning and decided to come down out of the platforms and walk to a nearby thicket, Bageant said.

Miller shot the 8-point buck first when it appeared from the brush and Bageant shot the 5-point when it followed.

A couple of does crossed in front of them before the bucks, but Bageant and Miller let them go.

"We let them walk because we wanted to see this," said Bageant, proudly looking over the kill in the back of a Ford pickup truck.

The two-week firearms season's biggest regulatory change this year allows hunters to shoot deer of either sex.

In the bed of another pickup truck, a big 13-point buck and an 8-point buck laid side by side, the results of a successful hunt by David Ansell of Charleston and his friend William Loy.

The two hunters killed the deer after hunting Monday morning in the Arden area in Berkeley County.

Ansell said there is getting to be so many deer in West Virginia that he predicts the state will allow hunters to kill much larger amounts of deer, similar to what has been allowed in other states.

Monday brought an especially proud moment in the Crowell family of Martinsburg.

Mike Crowell Jr., the 13-year-old son of Mike Crowell, bagged his first deer on private property near Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Had the deer not had one of its antlers broken off, it probably would have been an 8-point.

Crowell's father and another hunting partner in the group said they saw up to 40 deer while hunting at their spot.

The number of deer being checked in at the Hedgesville Texaco Monday also appeared to be heavier than normal, said manager Harry Miller.

As of mid-afternoon, Miller said he had checked about 59 deer, not counting does.

"It seems it's going to be a whole lot more than last year," Miller said.

A bigger deer population coupled with the new regulation that allows hunters to also bag does during the current season could lead to a big deer kill this year, said local hunting enthusiasts and state wildlife officials.

"We need a good strong harvest because there is getting to be a lot of deer around," Pharr said.

Sheriff's deputies in Berkeley and Jefferson counties reported no hunting-related injuries or mishaps Monday.

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