11-19-12 Opening Day 2012

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A tradition as old as West Virginia itself is renewed across the state Monday.   The West Virginia DNR estimates well over 330,000 hunters will be in the woods for the opening of the traditional buck hunting season, according to media sources.

“I think we’re going to have a similar season to last year.  That’s the consensus of the district biologists with the mast survey,” said DNR Deer Biologist Jim Crum. “I’m hoping this storm doesn’t deter people from getting out.”

Some parts of West Virginia’s higher elevations are still recovering from the snowfall delivered by Hurricane Sandy, but Crum does not believe the weather from late October will have any impact on this year’s hunting season.    As always however, he says the weather this week often plays a big role in the number of deer that are killed.

“We get blamed for blaming a poor kill on weather, but it’s a fact,” Crum said. “If we get bad weather on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday the kill will be down because of hunters not hunting as long or not even going.”

The 2012 Mast Survey produced by the DNR annually to reflect the amount of food available to wildlife each year found spotty conditions across the state.   Hunters will find some parts of West Virginia where acorns are thick and deer won’t move much.  Other parts of the state are sparse with food sources and deer will travel.   Normally it’s a non-factor on the first three days of the season with so many hunters moving in the woods.

Crum points to another factor for the 2012 season which works in the hunter’s favor.   Typically the peak of rutting activity occurs in the second and third week of November.  The buck season is deliberately designed to come after the peak of rutting, but because the traditional opening day is always the Monday before Thanksgiving, the proximity of opening day to the peak varies.    This year’s opening day falls on the closest date possible to the peak of the rut.

Hunters in a number of counties will also be able to take a buck or doe if they hunt on private land.  The concurrent antlerless hunting season has become a popular management tool for the DNR, according to media sources.

“A lot of places don’t get hunted other than the first week of buck season,” said Crum. “If we don’t have an opportunity for people to manage the deer on that property, it doesn’t get done.”

The DNR will be collecting biological data samples at check stations in more than 20 counties.  The random collection of weight, sex, age, and other factors will help gauge the health of the state’s deer herd and guide management decisions in the future.

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