Deer hunters off to good start in W.Va.

November 23, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

LEETOWN, W.Va. - It was mid-afternoon on the first day of West Virginia's bucks-only deer season and not a hunter was in the parking lot of S&C Grocery in Leetown, W.Va., to check a deer.

Then came the guys who had been hunting near Elmwood Farm west of Charles Town, W.Va.

The six hunters rolled into the parking lot in two pickup trucks full of deer.

It was a proud moment as the men recounted their kills, which included an 8-point buck and two 6-point bucks.

Then there was Tim Bowles' kill.

The 7-point buck, which the Harpers Ferry, W.Va., man shot at the edge of a cornfield, stretched the entire length of the bed of a pickup.

While the other deer averaged about 130 pounds each, the hunters estimated that Bowles' deer weighed between 180 and 200 pounds.


"He's a horse," said a bystander who was surveying the kill.

It was one of many success stories in the Eastern Panhandle Monday as the first day of deer season got under way in West Virginia.

Deer season is serious business for state hunters and state officials are expecting more than 350,000 people to enter the woods during the two-week season that runs through Dec. 4.

In the Eastern Panhandle Monday, the number of deer kills appeared to be occurring at a steady pace.

At S&C Grocery, which is along Sulphur Springs Road near Leetown in Jefferson County, about 50 deer had been checked by mid-afternoon, said store spokesman Skip Peele.

Peele said he does not remember a first day of deer season when so many deer were brought in so early.

"Today, they were here at 7:30 (a.m)," said Peele, referring to the hunters who showed up to have deer checked. "In fact, most were killed by 10 o'clock."

The six hunters who were hunting on and around Elmwood Farm, which is west of Charles Town, said they saw many big deer in the area before hunting season.

"There's bigger ones than that," said Bowles, looking down at his buck.

Bowles said that when he shot the buck, there were 10 others around it.

Raymond Herbert, who was part of the group, said he spotted a big buck in a cornfield and shot. He missed it, but then saw another one.

Herbert killed the second buck, which was a 6-point.

Jim Wysong, another hunter in the group, said deer seem to be bigger in Jefferson County compared to more mountainous regions to the west. Wysong, of Charles Town, attributes that to the many corn and soybean fields in Jefferson County on which the deer enjoy feeding.

At Sparks Sport Center near Martinsburg, W.Va., about 60 deer had been checked by mid-afternoon, said store employee Curtis Ashcraft. That was about average for the store, which usually checks about 100 deer by the close of the first day, Ashcraft said.

David Smith had already killed a deer near his home in Kearneysville, W.Va., and was back at work at Sparks in the afternoon.

Smith killed a buck with a muzzleloader, a primitive gun for which the users pack their own gunpowder into the barrel, said store spokesman Dick Pharr.

Smith walked to his hunting spot with one round of ammunition, although he planned to take more, Pharr said.

Smith fired his single shot, and a big plume of smoke from the muzzleloader filled the air.

Then Smith heard the buck hit the ground.

"Those are some of many stories we will hear," Pharr said.

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