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W.Va. deer season underway

November 22, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W. Va. - Anxious deer hunters on Sunday began preparing to enter the woods today in West Virginia for the start of deer season.

And state officials were on the lookout for hunters who were too anxious.

Officials received complaints Sunday about people hunting early and one man was cited in Mineral County, W.Va., for hunting in a closed season, said Capt. Jerry Jenkins of the state Division of Natural Resources.

At nightfall Sunday, DNR officials received a call about shots being fired in Morgan County, Jenkins said.

Hunting before the deer season begins is a problem every year, said Jenkins, adding that some people cannot wait.

"If the season started on the Fourth of July, someone would hunt on the third," Jenkins said.

West Virginia's bucks-only firearms season begins today and runs through Dec. 4.

Deer hunting in the state is a strong tradition and hunters contribute significantly to the state's economy, said Ed Hamrick, director of the DNR. The annual economic impact of the season is estimated to be $248 million, Hamrick said.

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"Ninety percent of the state's hunters participate in buck hunting, and we expect more than 350,000 hunters will be afield during the two-week season," Hamrick said in a news release.

Because many local businesses that sell hunting licenses had sold out of them by Sunday, more hunters could be in the woods this year, Jenkins said.

"We've been seeing a lot of hunters on the roads today," Jenkins said Sunday.

Many local hunters were getting ready Sunday to head to their favorite spots in an attempt to bag deer.

Doug Ratchford of Martinsburg, W.Va., was either going to go to a farm in Jefferson County or a farm in Berkeley County today. The farm in Jefferson County is 310 acres and Ratchford said he hunts the property with another person.

Ratchford said there is no shortage of deer on the farm, and last year he killed two eight-point bucks and a doe.

Bob Anders said he has been going to the same spot in Hampshire County for the last eight years to hunt. It has been a good hunting area, but Anders said he does not know how successful he will be this year because some storm damage has occurred on the land, which is near Slanesville, W.Va.

The owner of the property decided to remove the downed trees, which many have spooked the deer, said Anders.

"A couple friends have been up there and they have seen one big buck. Nothing major," said Anders, who lives in Tuscawilla Hills near Charles Town, W.Va.

Hunters only can kill deer that have one or both antlers that are 3 inches or more in length.

All hunters, except those involved in farming activities on their own land or waterfowl hunters, must wear at least 400 square inches of blaze-orange material as an outer garment, DNR officials said.

Hunters also must have any deer killed checked at an official game-checking station within 72 hours of the kill or within 24 hours of the close of the hunting season, whichever comes first, the DNR said.

Today's weather is expected to be mild, with temperatures in the 50s, Jenkins said.

In such weather, hunters have to be mindful to dress killed deer quickly to protect the meat from spoiling, Jenkins said.

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