Deer hunters take to W.Va. woods

November 23, 2008|By DAVE MCMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia's deer-hunting season that begins today could not come fast enough for Jefferson County farmer Lyle "Cam" Tabb.

Tabb is looking for help to stop droves of deer, sometimes up to 80 in a herd, from decimating his crops.

Tabb said he has three farms in the county where he can no longer grow soybeans because of deer, and he has received crop damage permits that allow hunters to kill larger numbers of deer on his property.

But the permits have barely put a dent in the problem, Tabb said.

"I call them field rats," Tabb said. "It's extreme, it's not moderate."

Deer hunters using guns will get their chance at taking out part of Jefferson County's deer population during the gun season for deer that runs until Dec. 6.


Ken White, a senior conservation officer with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, said deer in the Eastern Panhandle continue to look very healthy, which he attributed to the animals feeding on local farms.

White said the crop damage permits farmers can obtain can allow up to 20 deer to be killed on each permit.

Tabb said one situation that makes deer damage particularly difficult for him is about 800 acres of federal property in the Leetown Road area near his land. Tabb said hunting is not allowed on the federal property and the deer often come onto his property to eat his crops.

Tabb said the problem is so bad that he would like to see some research conducted into possibly developing a birth-control program for deer.

"These things are costing me tens of thousands of dollars a year," Tabb said Sunday.

White is asking hunters not to get overzealous about diminishing the deer population.

In an attempt to prevent anyone from being shot during the hunting season, White is asking hunters to be sure of their target and "what's beyond it."

Hunters are required to wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange-colored material to help ensure they can be seen by other hunters, White said.

"A hat is not 400 square inches. A vest is," White said.

White said hunters normally have better luck seeing deer when temperatures fall, and a wintry forecast is in store.

Although today's temperature is expected to be around 48 degrees, snow could begin falling tonight and the temperature could dip to around 31 degrees.

Local hunters often have permission to hunt on private farms in Jefferson and Berkeley counties, and there are two public facilities on which to hunt.

Those are:

o The Shannondale Springs Wildlife Management Area on 1,361 acres off Mission Road in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of Jefferson County.

o The 22,928-acre Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area along the Berkeley and Morgan county line, about six miles southeast of Berkeley Springs.

Deer facts

What: West Virginia's gun season for bucks opens Monday and runs through Dec. 6

Last year: Hunters killed 67,505 deer during gun season for bucks and 145,577 during the state's various seasons.

Dollars and cents: Gov. Joe Manchin said hunting in general contributes about $233 million to the state's economy and employs about 5,000.

Deerly beloved: The number of licensed hunters is down, but an estimated 325,000 hunters are expected to participate in the two-week hunt starting today.

Source: The Associated Press

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