Buck Firearms Season Scores Trophy Harvest
Deer hunters rejoice.
More deer were harvested during buck firearm last season than were killed in 2014, according to the state Division of Natural Resources.
DNR preliminary estimates indicate buck harvest increased 77 percent from the 2014 harvest of 37,450 to 66,374.
During the two-week season from Nov. 23 to Dec. 5, there were 1,245 deer in Tyler County harvested as compared with 566 shot in 2014. The county’s biggest harvest within the past five years was when hunters shot with 1,189 in 2011, according to the DNR
Hunters in Wetzel County took home 1,334 deer this season as compared with 891 harvested in 2014. The county’s biggest harvest within the past five years was when hunters shot 1,615 deer in 2011, according to the DNR.
The buck harvest increased in all DNR districts with the largest percentages occurring in the western counties of the state where the harvest was double that of the previous year. The DNR attributes the bountiful harvest to excellent weather and a lack of acorns.
“We are very pleased with how the hunters adapted to to the new electronic game checking system,” Paul Johansen, chief of the state’s DNR Wildlife Resources Section, in a recent press release. “We have received many positive comments about the ease of being able to check deer and other game using a telephone, Internet or by stopping at a license agent.”
According to the DNR, the top 10 counties for the buck harvest were: Ritchie (2,273); Preston (2,242); Lewis (2,157); Hampshire (2,107); Jackson (2,094); Roane (2,087); Hardy (1,885), Greenbrier (1,884), Upshur (1,864) and Wood (1,802).
Mike Rokles, a hunting instructor for more than 23 years in Tyler and Wetzel counties, gave a thumbs up to this year’s harvest.
“I would say it has to do with the good weather the first three days of season,” he said. “Traditionally the first three days of season always account for the majority of the kill. Another factor is that you can now kill a buck or doe if you have the proper stamps , that also contributes. That wasn’t always the case in the past.”
Rokles said his hunting season was good in one respect and bad in another. On the one hand, he did get to do a little hunting, but on other not as much hunting as he would have liked.
“I tried to hunt on opening day. I was in the woods at daylight,” he said. “I stayed for four hours and that was all I could handle. I had shoulder surgery (two weeks before the hunting trip) to repair a torn rotator cuff and to re-attach my tendon, and four anchors placed to help repair my injury. That was the worst part. It was no wear close to be in shape to hunt, but I tried.”
Rokles, who lives and breathes for hunting, explains that though the worst part of this season was that he would have been in the woods longer had it not been for nagging shoulder injury, that the absence from the woods led to other possibilities for this family man.
“The good part was I spent the rest of the first week (hunting season) getting ready to make a trip to Connecticut to move my middle daughter (Stacey) and my grandkids back to West Virginia,” he said. “My grandkids, who are 11 and 12 years old, and have always lived in Connecticut which means I couldn’t spend the time with them I wanted to. So it was good in the sense that I now get to see them all the time.”
Soon after hunting season started, Rokles drove across the Mason-Dixon line to help the family move back home to almost heaven.
“I drove there on Thanksgiving day and had their life loaded into a U-haul and brought them back to West Virginia,” he said. “I spent the next week with my youngest daughter helping them get settled in.”
But hunting is never far from Rokles mind. Spring classes are now scheduled. Go to wvdnr.gov and click on class search to find a class.
“The plan now is to get my granddaughter (Ava) certified with her hunter education class,” he said.
Though Rokles’ season didn’t end with a trophy buck, he did win points for bringing the family home. And there is always next season.
“We weren’t able to get a deer, but we got the whole family back together now in West Virginia,” he said. “That means more time to make those special memories in the future.”
The DNR will be providing more deer hunting statistics this week arising from various other seasons that took place throughout December.