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Get all the deer news you need on the weather report

November 25, 2007|By BILL ANDERSON

If you have followed the deer season totals over the years, you know that the factor always mentioned as being the key is weather.

In our area, we can have just about anything in November, and this past week we did. For much of the week it was unusually warm, with temperatures in the 70s on Wednesday. Things have really changed this weekend, with lows in the single digits on Friday night in the high-elevation areas.

There is no word from the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources on the first-week totals, but a few phone calls to key checking stations I have worked with in the past seem to indicate that the first three-day total was up from the past two years. That's really good news, because things have been down the last two years in much of the state.

Maryland hunters enjoyed excellent weather for their opening day Saturday. It was indeed cool, when compared to the early part of the week, and cool crisp days with little wind generally make for excellent hunting conditions. You can anticipate a high opening-day kill total in Maryland.

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The weather forecast for Pennsylvania's opening day, Monday, is for a chance of rain, freezing rain and snow for much of the state. If this turns out to be the case, the harvest totals will be impacted.

One aspect of the deer season in all three states that often gets overlooked is that there is a full two weeks to the general firearms season, and the hunting pressure is all but gone by the time the second week rolls around. This is particularly true on some of the better known public hunting areas made up of state and national forest lands.

Each year it is always the same at the major public hunting areas in West Virginia: The majority of the hunting pressure is during opening week. But by Wednesday evening, the campers start pulling out so the hunters can spend Thanksgiving with the family.

The unusually warm weather this past week made it necessary for hunters with deer to break camp even earlier to get their deer taken care of properly. You can't hang deer on the meatpole with temperatures in the 70s.

Hunters should also keep in mind that even after the regular firearms season is over, there will be plenty of opportunities to fill a deer tag. One of the most popular and productive is the late muzzleloader season. In fact, when you look at all of the hunting dates in December, there will be plenty of opportinities to keep hunters in the woods for weeks to come.

Opening-day deaths

The West Virginia DNR reported that two hunters died on the first day of gun season for bucks. The first, John Myers, 69, of Westernport, Md., fell from a 25-foot tree stand while hunting in Preston County. Two companions found his body after hearing him fire a shot that hit its mark.

The second hunter, Ferrill Hall, 68, of Orrville, Ohio, suffered a fatal heart attack after shooting a buck in Calhoun County.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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