Preliminary data for the buck firearms season in West Virginia - with a week still to go - indicates the overall number of deer killed could be down from last year.

“It’s probably 10 percent to 20 percent down from last year and that’s very preliminary,” said Paul Johansen, chief of wildlife resources for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

Johansen stressed that the information is very preliminary because DNR officials will need to comb through the data once the season completes its final day on Saturday, Dec. 7, to check for a variety of things such as errors and to make sure the deer that were checked are for the appropriate season.

Last year through one week of the buck firearms season – Monday through Sunday – about 38,000 bucks had been killed. The DNR official said preliminary data indicates the numbers could be down somewhat this season. Hunters in West Virginia killed a total of 44,599 deer in 2018 during the entire buck firearms season.

While the weather was ideal for the first two days of this year's buck firearms season (Monday and Tuesday last week), windy conditions were reported on Wednesday, Johansen said.

The conditions of the food source for deer – mast – also have caused deer to be more scattered this year and not as concentrated for hunters.

Hemorrhagic disease, a viral disease, also has caused mortality in the deer population.

The DNR official said he hasn’t looked at hunting license sale numbers yet to see if that could be having an effect on the number of deer killed.

“Year in and year out, the harvest fluctuates somewhat, and we don’t always know the reasons for that,” Johansen said.

Final county-by-county numbers are not available yet, but he said he believes Randolph, Preston, Hampshire and Greenbrier counties will be among the counties again with the highest number of bucks killed.

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