Some hunters were finding success in the 1st 2 days of buck season, but they were the exception.
The number of deer killed as buck season began was down around 20 percent from a year ago, said Wildlife Biologist Rich Rogers of the Division of Natural Resources’ Romney office.
“It’s down in this county and statewide,” Rogers said Tuesday morning. “I just checked the data.”
Hunters took about 44,500 deer in 2018’s 2-week season.
The drop is no surprise to Rogers, who noted when the annual mast report was released last month that conditions were stacked against hunters this year because of the bounty.
“That was expected,” he said. “Deer are staying in the woods.”
The nice weather is doing nothing to help hunters, he noted.
“They have full bellies, the rut is winding down,” he noted. “They’re not coming out in the open.”
The good news? “There will be good holdover for next year,” Rogers said.
The 1st 3 days of buck season, which begins the Monday before Thanksgiving, traditionally yield the biggest part of the 2-week take.
Statewide, more than 250,000 hunters were in the woods for the opening day of buck firearms season. This year’s start was 6 days later than 2018 because the calendar flipped and Thanksgiving moved to its latest date possible from the earliest date possible last year.
“A large percent of the harvest comes in on the first 2 days of the season,” Gary Foster, DNR’s game management supervisor, told MetroNews. “Those are the big days.”
The name buck season is a slight misnomer. In Hampshire and 10 other counties, hunters have to kill a doe before they can take a 2nd buck. The other nearby counties include Berkeley, Hardy, Jefferson, eastern Mineral, Morgan and Preston.
DNR’s focus on containing Chronic Wasting Disease — 1st discovered in Hampshire County 14 years ago — shifted to neighboring Mineral, Morgan and Berkeley counties this year.
On Monday and Tuesday, hunters who killed a deer in those 3 counties were required to bring it to a carcass checkpoint so biologists could collect tissue samples to check for CWD.
The nearest check-in stations that took samples were at Flying W Farms in Burlington and Stony Creek Country Store in Great Cacapon.
Such check-ins were mandatory for nearly a decade in Hampshire, then became voluntary. This year none exist here although the rules remain against baiting for deer and prohibiting the removal of carcasses from the containment area.
Hunters check in their kills electronically. Buck season wraps up Dec. 7.