SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Some 330,000 deer hunters took to the woods across West Virginia on Monday for the start of a two-week gun season that the Division of Natural Resources predicts will be slightly better than last year.
Hunters bagged 60,157 bucks in the 2011 season, a 38 percent increase over the previous year, said Curtis Taylor, head of the wildlife resources section. This year, every region should see a similar or higher harvest.
Good reproduction and a mild winter last year have translated to an ample supply of 18-month-old animals, and mast conditions are favorable. Taylor said the DNR has also been conducting spotlight counts in many counties and seen plenty of deer with big racks.
The November firearms season opens the Monday before Thanksgiving every year, so the date can be as early as Nov. 19 or as late as Nov. 25. This is one of the earlier years, and that means hunters are heading out closer to the peak deer rut. Hunters have an advantage when deer are active and distracted.
Hunting is big business for the state. Together, hunters spend a combined $230 million, the DNR says, much of that in rural areas where small businesses depend on the income from deer season.