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Hunters fare well on opening day of firearms buck season

November 22, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

EASTERN PANHANDLE, W.VA.

charlestown@herald-mail.com

It's that time of year again, time to thin out the deer herd.

The deer that haven't been killed by vehicles so far this year were fair game Monday to thousands of hunters as the first day of the firearms buck hunting season began.

Many deer have been seen along roads in the weeks leading up to the two-week hunting season, and the situation was no different Monday.

"I saw about 30 deer in two hours," Scott Murphy said Monday afternoon as he recounted his morning of hunting in Jefferson County.

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Murphy was hunting on a farm in Kearneysville, W.Va., with several other people and he said many of the deer he saw initially were too far away to shoot.

Then came the golden opportunity.

Shortly before 11 a.m., Murphy said he was walking through a field when he noticed a large buck about 30 yards away.

The Kearneysville resident killed the buck with one shot to the neck. By mid-afternoon, the deer - weighing about 130 pounds - was dressed and lying in the back of Murphy's truck.

Murphy said the farm where he hunted is near a construction site for the new four-lane W.Va. 9, and he believes a lot of deer moved onto the farm to escape the construction activity.

John Straub said he was hunting with two other people in Berkeley County. By 11 a.m., all three hunters had killed deer. The deer were killed in the vicinity of the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area, a state-owned public hunting area which straddles the border of Berkeley and Morgan counties.

Straub, of Glenelg, Md., said he was in a tree stand about 8:30 a.m. when a large, six-point buck approached.

"It walked right underneath me," Straub said, recounting the moment he shot the animal. "It was the only deer I saw," said Straub, who owns a house near the wildlife management area.

By mid-afternoon, 22 bucks had been taken to a game checking station at Murphy's Shell station along W.Va. 9 in Hedgesville, W.Va., store employee Cindy Murphy said.

Murphy said she considered that a low number since hunters seemed to be bringing deer to the store at a faster pace last year.

The biggest deer that had been brought to the store by mid-afternoon was a nine-point, which was killed in nearby Kates Hollow, Murphy said.

A fewer number of deer - 18 - were checked at the Tomahawk Grocery, but store employee Lisa Bartgis considered that good.

"I would say it's good because last year we didn't have that many," Bartgis said.

Statewide, hunters were expected to shoot more bucks than the 63,873 they killed last year.

"A harvest of about 80,000 would be nice, but I figure the total probably will end up somewhere in the 70,000s," said Curtis Taylor, chief of the state Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Section.

Taylor expects an estimated 350,000 hunters and landowners to be out during the season's first three days.

"It's the biggest single-day event of any kind in West Virginia," he said. "Nothing else even comes close," said Taylor, saying a West Virginia University football game might only involve 70,000 people.

Hunters can kill two bucks if they have an extra stamp for their hunting license.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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