(12/02/2010)
The deer kill, according to preliminary figures, has plummeted.

Reports indicate the Calhoun and regional deer kill is down 40-50%, a major decline from predictions made by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, who said the kill would be flat or about the same as last year.

Jeff McCready, the DNR's game biologist for the Parkersburg region, told the Herald it's too early to explain what appears to be a major decline in the regional deer kill.

McCready said the agency would be releasing some kill numbers in a week or two, and would be assessing the situation, saying there are many variables.

Big Bend merchant and sportsman Ray Holbert said, "The deer just aren't there," while acknowledging some decline in out-of-state hunters to the county.

It costs out-of-state hunters a $135 fee to kill one buck, the national recession could be a partial reason for the decline.

The biggest reason could be last winter's severe lack of feeding mast, caused a large number of deer to starve.

Local hunters have reported finding lots of deer carcasses in the woods.

Holbert says coyotes likely took a big toll on young deer.

This was the first year that dozens of hunters did not submit photos of their kills to the Herald.

2005-09 STATISTICS

Preliminary data collected from game checking stations across the state indicate deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 62,491 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, which ran from Nov. 23 through Dec. 5, according to Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro.

The 2009 buck harvest was 7 percent less than the 2008 harvest of 67,365.

The top ten counties for buck harvest were: Jackson (2,493), Lewis (2,215), Preston (2,123), Roane (2,116), Mason (2,105), Ritchie (1,979), Braxton (1,896), Randolph (1,896), Greenbrier (1,896) and Wood (1,853).

Calhoun 859 (2005), 1,039 (2006), 1,163 (2007), 1,252 (2008), 1,147 (2009)

Braxton 1,244 (2005), 1,308 (2006), 2,005 (2007), 1,731 (2008), 1,896 (2009)

Clay 370 (2005), 399 (2006), 551 (2007), 540 (2008), 528 (2009)

Gilmer 981 (2005), 1,182 (2006), 1,401 (2007), 1,585 (2008), 1,319 (2009)

Ritchie 1,495 (2005), 2,147 (2006), 1,564 (2007), 2,369 (2008), 1,979 (2009)

Roane 1,616 (2005), 1,691 (2006), 1,873 (2007), 2,010 (2008), 2,116 (2009)

Wirt 928 (2005), 919 (2006), 1,006 (2007), 1,186 (2008), 1,272 (2009)

STATE TOTALS

56,901 (2005), 66,115 (2006), 67,213 (2007), 67,365 (2008), 62,491 (2009)

According to data provided every five years by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 460,000 resident and 137,000 nonresident hunters and anglers spent over 10.8 million days collectively each year hunting and fishing in West Virginia. Money spent by these sportsmen and women impacts our economy by over $1.2 billion annually and supports over 16,000 jobs.


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