Hunters score major points as W.Va. firearms season opens

November 19, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD and RICHARD F. BELISLE | and
  • Jacob Smith, 14, of Inwood, W.Va., shows off the eight-point buck that he "rattled" in with antlers Monday morning while hunting in Morgan County, W.Va., on the first day of firearm deer season in the Mountain State.
By Matthew Umstead/Staff Writer

SHANGHAI, W.Va. — The eight-point buck that 14-year-old Jacob Smith bagged Monday, the first day of firearm deer season in West Virginia, crossed the Inwood, W.Va., boy’s path one too many times.

“I saw him a couple times before,” Jacob said outside Shanghai Grocery in Back Creek Valley, where he and his dad, Curtis, took the deer to be checked in.

“I’ve shot other eight points, but that’s probably the biggest one,” Jacob said.

In his tree stand in Morgan County before 6 a.m., Jacob said he was able to lure the buck closer to his position by rattling a set of antlers to try to make the animal think another male was in the area.

Jacob said he heard the deer rustling in the trees, marking his territory with his antlers, before he saw him and shot the buck from about 80 yards away at about 7 a.m.

“I was fired up this morning,” said Jacob, who said he had seen the buck as recently as Saturday when only archery deer season was allowed.

Jacob and his dad were among hundreds of thousands of deer hunters who took to the woods across West Virginia on Monday for the start of the two-week gun season, which the state Division of Natural Resources predicts will be slightly better than last year.

“It’s exciting, the adrenaline rush,” Jacob said of his love for hunting. “It’s nice just getting out in the woods — seeing everything.”

Billy Wampler of York, Pa., who checked in a four-point buck, said he has made the trip to Berkeley County to hunt in the Sleepy Creek area every year since he was a teenager.

“This was the first one I saw,” said Wampler, who is awaiting the opening of gun deer season in Pennsylvania next week.

“It was nice here today. The weather was good,” Wampler said.

Ned Boyd, 82, of Martinsburg, checked in a doe that he shot Monday after obtaining a doe permit. The deer will be processed for jerky because that’s what his children enjoy, he said.

Boyd said he intends to return to the woods Tuesday as long as his all-terrain vehicle still runs.

Ray Goulet of Martinsburg left the woods with a 10-point buck Monday.

“Best I ever pulled out of here,” Goulet said.

He doubted he ever saw one as big, either, and suspects fewer hunters might be a reason for that.

Goulet recalled the woods being crowded with hunters, many from out of state.

“Heck, you’d be scared to hunt,” Goulet said.

Shanghai Grocery checked in more than two dozen deer by 1 p.m., but owner Dorothy Snow said the number of hunters has dropped significantly since the economic recession.

Before the turndown, it was not at all surprising to check in 200 deer on the first day of gun season at the store, according to Snow.

A 14-point buck holds the mark at the wildlife checking station for having the most tines of the deer’s antlers, according to Snow.

If Robert Hall got skunked while deer hunting last year, this year he reached nirvana when he brought down the “biggest deer I ever shot.”

Hall, 27, of Inwood, W.Va., was checking in his eight-point buck at the Handi-Stop in Tuscawilla Hills in Charles Town, W.Va., around 3:30 p.m. Monday. The deer was sharing the bed of his pickup truck with the all-terrain vehicle that he used to drag the heavy buck from the field.

“I was sitting down in this field around one o’clock when he came walking in with some does,” Hall said. “He was about 150 yards off, just standing there.”

Hall aimed his .270 caliber Browning, and downed the animal with a clean shot through the lungs, he said.

“I didn’t get a deer last year,” he said. “I’m going to have the head on this one mounted. We’ll eat the meat through the spring and summer.”

Hall said he does his own butchering.

“If you put this in the paper, I’ll have to buy doughnuts for the guys at work,” he said.

Hall is a firefighter with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg.

Sean O’Hara, a clerk in the Handi-Stop, said Hall’s buck was the 20th deer checked in by mid-afternoon.

A clerk at the H Mart in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said 36 deer had been checked in there by 4 p.m.

“Eight, six, five, four,” rattled off Wanda Mason-Ballenger on the number of points on four of the six bucks that had been checked in by 2:30 p.m. at the Bakerton Market in Jefferson County. The seventh deer was a doe.

Mason-Ballenger said some of the hunters who brought in deer had combed the woods and fields of the Bakerton and Molers Crossroads areas for their prey.

Tony Jamison of Bakerton was leaving the store Tuesday afternoon on his way to the fields to begin his first try on opening day.

“I usually get a deer in this area,” he said. “There seems to be an abundance of them this year, bucks and does,” he said.

Jamison hunts with a bow, black powder and a .270 Remington.

“I just got here and they said this has been going on all day long,” said Brenda Via, a clerk at the EZ Mart on Blair Road in Hall Town, W.Va., at around 3 p.m. Monday. She was referring to the 26 deer that had already been checked in.

“The biggest one had 11 points,” she said. “Only two or three were does.”

Co-worker Amanda Long said hunters were lined up waiting to check deer when she came to work at 11 a.m.

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