Traditional Antlered Buck Season Fast Approaching
West Virginia’s traditional antlered buck gun season begins on Nov. 21, according to Curtis I. Taylor, chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the Division of Natural Resources. West Virginia’s buck gun season provides a wealth of recreational opportunities for resident and nonresident hunters and has a tremendous economic impact on the state’s economy.
“Hunters should enjoy a great season of hunting in 2011,” said Taylor. “Mast conditions are not as good this year as last year and deer will be more concentrated around specific food sources. In addition, there should be more mature bucks available to hunters this year because of the lower harvest and abundant food conditions in 2010.”
Taylor reminds hunters that they can harvest an additional buck with the purchase of the appropriate stamp. Resident hunters wanting the extra buck should purchase the Class RG stamp. The RG stamp must be purchased prior to the beginning of the season, and the cost is $21.
The RG stamp must be accompanied by a Class A and BG, A-L, AB-L, X, XJ, or free license. Resident landowners have the privilege of harvesting the extra buck without purchasing the RG stamp if they are hunting on their own property.
“The extra buck stamp could prove to be a good investment this hunting season because the number of mature bucks being spotted by DNR field personnel and hunters is higher than normal,” Taylor said.
Nonresident hunters wanting an extra buck must purchase an RRG stamp prior to the beginning of the season, and the cost is $43. The RRG stamp must be accompanied by the Class E or XXJ license.
Nonresident hunters who own land in West Virginia are not exempt from purchasing a license or the extra buck stamp, even if hunting on their own property.
Black bear seasons have been expanded with 10 counties open Nov. 22 Dec. 4 during the buck season and concurrent antlerless deer season. A hunter may bag one bear and one deer on the same day during the concurrent seasons in those counties. See the 2010-2011 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary for details.
* All deer must be field tagged and checked in within 72 hours of the time of kill or within 24 hours of the close of the season, whichever comes first. Additional deer may not be taken until all previously taken deer have been checked. Only one deer may be taken per day during the buck season.
* Deer hunting in West Virginia generates a total annual economic impact of $233 million, much of it in the rural areas of the state that depend upon the deer seasons for a large portion of their annual income.
* In 2009, deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 62,986 bucks during the two-week buck season, a decrease of 6.5 percent from the 2008 harvest. The 2009 antlerless season deer harvest decreased by three percent from 2008 for a total of 54,414.
*WVDNR forecasts that buck hunters should experience a similar harvest in 2010. Some slight overwinter mortality may have localized impacts on populations but will not have a tremendous effect on the overall buck harvest. Buck seasons are less affected by hard mast conditions compared to other seasons due to the total number of hunters afield during that time. Therefore, the abundant mast crop of 2010 will have less of an overall impact on the harvest. However, hunters should scout and notice the acorn crop prior to hunting. Available mast during the gun season should still have deer feeding on these food sources.
*Sunday hunting is legal in the following 14 counties on private land only: Boone, Brooke, Clay, Hancock, Jefferson, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell, Marshall, Mingo, Ohio, Wayne, Wetzel and Wyoming. The only Sunday that is open in these counties during the buck season is November 28. Hunters are reminded that deer gun seasons are closed in Logan, Mingo, McDowell and Wyoming counties.
*Hunters are required to wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange (about the size of a vest) as an outer garment for visibility and safety. Blaze orange camouflage patterns are legal as long as 400 square inches of blaze orange are displayed on the garment. A blaze orange hat is not required, but the hunter must have blaze orange visible from both the front and the back.
* Hunting licenses may be purchased online at any time and printed out on a home computer printer. Go to the goWILD! Web site at www.wvhunt.com, fill out the application, and purchase it over a secure server with a credit card.
* Hunters who wish to donate deer meat or dollars to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program, which distributes deer meat through the Mountaineer Food Bank and the Huntington Food Bank, should call 304-558-2771 or visit the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov to find a participating meat processor.
Many counties are open to concurrent antlerless hunting during the traditional buck gun season. Antlerless hunting starts on Nov. 21 on private land in open counties and Nov. 23 on public land on open wildlife management areas.
Hunters should consult the 2011-2012 Hunting Regulations and Summary for specific antlerless deer regulations in each county and WMA.
This year’s West Virginia Big Buck Contest, for deer taken between Oct. 1-Dec. 31, is sponsored again by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the Izaak Walton League of West Virginia, the West Virginia Bowhunters Association, West Virginia Muzzleloaders Association, West Virginia Physically Challenged Advisory Board and Toyota, according to Gene Thorn, chairman of the West Virginia Big Buck Contest Review Committee.
During this time, any hunter who bags a deer in West Virginia with antlers having eight or more points, a 26-inch beam length, and points that are more than eight inches long, may have a winning buck.
Antlers will be measured according to the official scoring system for North American big game animals established by the Boone and Crockett Club.
Plaques will be awarded to eight overall first-place winners for typical and non-typical bucks in gun, bow, muzzleloader, and crossbow (physically challenged) categories at the National Hunting and Fishing Days Celebration held at Stonewall Jackson State Park this weekend.
Gun and muzzleloader hunters whose bucks score more than 140 points typical or 165 non-typical will receive certificates commemorating the entry of their buck into the West Virginia Big Buck Contest and Records Keeping Program. Bowhunters or physically-challenged crossbow hunters whose bucks score more than 125 points typical or 155 non-typical will also receive certificates.
There were 66 new entries into the Big Buck Records in the 2010 season. The season total showed 11 bucks taken by gun hunters, one by muzzleloader, 52 by bowhunters, and two by crossbow. Bucks taken in previous years may still be scored for a certificate and entry into the records, if they meet the minimum score.
Hunters wishing to have their deer scored should contact the closest official scorer by checking the DNR’s website www.wvdnr.gov/hunting/BigBuckContest.shtm where there is a list of Official Measurers or through any DNR Wildlife District Office.
Phone numbers and addresses are listed in the 2011-12 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary. Appointments must be made for scoring trophies. Many hunters have their deer scored by a team of official measurers during the West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show, held in late January at the Charleston Civic Center.
Hunters will be required to read and sign a Fair Chase Affidavit and must bring their official Game Check Tag with the antlers to be measured.