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Excitement builds as deer season draws near


November 09, 2008|By BILL ANDERSON

Nov. 24 is opening day of the West Virginia's firearms season for deer. This opening day is followed by Maryland's opening on Nov. 29 and Pennsylvania's on Dec. 1. Many deer hunters from our area still hunt in all three states and get to enjoy the excitement of opening days times three.

Although factors such as a slumping economy can affect deer seasons, opening day is still special. In many rural areas, it's still kind of an event with convenience stores and camp grounds swarming with hunters making those last minute preparations.

The sales generated in many rural service businesses is as important as Christmas shopping is to the local mall. According to the West Virginia DNR, hunting related activities contribute more than $250 million to the state's economy each year. As a long-retired DNR employee used to say to me each fall, "That's a lot of flashlight batteries and Vienna sausages".


If you hunt in an area with heavy hunting pressure, opening day will be your best chance of the season to take a deer. The stats from every state show that a high percentage of the deer bagged are taken on opening day. Deer learn to adapt in a hurry, and after a day or two of heavy hunting pressure, the survivors become really hard to find.

This makes your opening day plan extremely important. For many hunters, the opening day tactics will make the difference between a filled deer tag and an unsuccessful season.

In heavily hunted areas, the most successful deer hunters are the ones who learn how to use hunting pressure to their advantage. It is well known that most of the hunting pressure will come from roads, parking areas or access points. The deer will respond to human activity by moving towards areas with heavy cover and difficult access. Examples of thick cover used as refuge cover include clear cuts or burned over areas. On Maryland's Eastern Shore, the refuge area could be a swampy area where the deer will move to escape the people in orange jackets.

Successful hunters know the areas the deer are using just before the season approaches and will attempt to predict the areas the deer will move to when the guns start popping.

If there is a common opening day plan, it is to pick your stand locations with care and spend as much time on the stand as possible. During the firearms season, the typical patterns of early morning and late evening deer activity is no longer the standard. With all of the hunters moving around, you are likely to see deer moving at all times of the day.

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