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W.Va. buck kill up, but still dollar short

December 10, 2006|by BILL ANDERSON

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released the preliminary buck kill total for the recent two-week firearms season.

The good news is the kill was 65,841 bucks, which is up 16 percent over the 2005 total. DNR officials cite a mild winter and good mast conditions in the fall of 2005 as factors for the increase. We also had great weather for much of the two-week period, which was a contributing factor.

It's important to note that many consider the 2005 buck kill of less than 57,000 to be a train wreck. So the increase from 56,901 to 65,841 kills fails to generate a lot of excitement.

To understand the trend, examine the past few seasons. The numbers for buck kills since the record year in 2001 are as follows:

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2001 - 99,375 bucks

2002 - 96,555 bucks

2003 - 73,128 bucks

2004 - 63,873 bucks

2005 - 56,901 bucks

2006 - 65,841 bucks

Obviously, the 2006 season was better than 2004 and 2005, but still a far cry from 2001 and 2002 when more than 90,000 bucks were reported.

By the way, it's not likely that we will see buck kills in the 90,000 range any time in the near future. The management practices currently in place are designed to not allow the state's deer herd to grow to the level to support a 90,000 buck kill.

The top counties for the 2006 season were Preston (2,597 bucks), Greenbrier (2,216), Ritchie (2,189), Hardy (2,171), and Jackson (2,141). Hampshire County, a traditional top producer, did not make the top 10.

Locally, Berkeley County recorded 949 bucks, up from 869 last season. Morgan County recorded 866 bucks, compared to 802 last season and Jefferson recorded 732 bucks, as compared to 652 last season. The percentage increase was pretty consistent.

West Virginia deer hunters now prepare for the one-week muzzleloader season, which will run Monday through Saturday.

Bill Anderson may be contacted via email at bill@weekend-sportsman.com

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