West Virginia Deer:   An estimated population of 825,000 deer in 2015.  About 750,000 in 2014 pre-hunt, down from 900,000 or higher prior to the hunting season in 2013.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical West Virginia deer hunting data and news archive.

West Virginia Deer News

More money spent on deer cleanup in W.Va. July 15, 2017 West Virginia, Herald-Mail Media
... Litter-control expenditures totaling $800,599 in the seven eastern West Virginia counties in the state agency's District 5 included $433,897 for "dead deer pickup and disposal," according to figures released Friday by the state Department of Transportation...

WV's Sunday hunting law takes effect statewide July 8, 2017 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail (subscription)
... With three-fifths of the state’s counties open, lawmakers decided to simplify things and make Sunday hunting statewide again...

...  a mother deer was struck and killed by a vehicle, and officers found surviving fawns that had to be cared for ... police contacted a local farmer who agreed to feed the deer until they are big enough to survive on their own...

New sampling finds more diseased deer in Hampshire County June 1, 2017 West Virginia, Cumberland Times News Homepage
...  Recent sampling by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources further substantiates that one-quarter to one-third of the deer in central Hampshire County are infected with chronic wasting disease...

NPS proposes plan to control deer population with sharpshooting, euthanasia April 17, 2017 Maryland and West Virginia, WJLA
... to reduce the population of deer that threatens Harpers Ferry and Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal national historical parks... details of the plan ... comment until May 16, 2017 ...

Tiny parasite is WV elk's biggest potential threat March 25, 2017 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... West Virginia’s elk, which came from the U.S. Forest Service’s National Elk and Bison Prairie in Western Kentucky, are unlikely to have any resistance at all because they’ve had no exposure to brainworm... Adult brainworms lay eggs in their hosts’ brains ...

Turnout low for DNR's meetings March 19, 2017 West Virginia, The Inter-Mountain
...  the DNR plans to open 23 counties and parts of two counties to unlimited antlerless deer hunting on private land with a bag limit of three... Nicholas, Pocahontas and the western portion of Pendleton will have limited antlerless deer hunting...

... approved a bill to permit the trade and barter of naturally shed deer antlers...

Senate Bill to Prohibit Abandoning Captured Game Animals March 6, 2017 West Virginia, U.S. News & World Report
... Under the bill, game animals cannot be abandoned without making a "reasonable effort" to retrieve it for human consumption... 

WV hunters should 'vote with feet' to get bigger bucks March 4, 2017 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... For far too long now, far too many West Virginians have had buck fixation. It probably harks back to the days when deer were scarce and antlered bucks were the only whitetails hunters were allowed to kill. That’s no longer the case ...

This is a video of a White Albino Whitetail Deer spotted in WV on 2/27/17. These deer are fairly rare and a treat to see in person.


WV DNR bills focus on shed deer-antler collecting, Sunday hunting February 25, 2017 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... under the current law, shed antlers are considered “wildlife parts,” and that it’s currently illegal to possess wildlife parts without a game-check tag that shows they’ve been legally harvested... Currently Sunday hunting is legal on private lands only in 33 of the state’s 55 counties...

W.Va. Division Natural Resources plans lethal management to battle deer disease February 23, 2017 West Virginia, Cumberland Times News Homepage
... Responding to an increasing incidence of chronic wasting disease in Hampshire County, shooting teams from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will kill and sample deer this spring... The total of CWD deer since the first one was discovered in 2005 now rises to 235 ...

DNR asks panel to relax deer-, bear-hunting regulations February 12, 2017 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail 
... Antlerless-deer regulations ... will become more liberal in 18 counties or parts of counties... the state’s deer-management plan calls for biologists to use the buck kill’s two-year running average as their measuring stick... “The 2014 [buck] harvest was poorer than the 2016 harvest,” ...

Research project seeks to understand coyotes' impact on deer February 4, 2017 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail 
... Over the past couple of decades, deer populations have declined throughout most of America’s southeast... West Virginia’s coyote population has risen in recent years while the deer population has declined... “There’s no question coyotes are having an effect [on deer populations,]” said Michael Chamberlain, a professor of wildlife ecology and management at the University of Georgia ...

Weather and food kept antlerless harvest low, DNR says January 21, 2017 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... Sportsmen bagged 34,792 antlerless deer in 23 days of hunting spread between mid-October and the end of December. It was the lowest antlerless harvest since 2010... n 2015 mast was scarce all over. In 2016 it was spotty ...

West Virginia hunters harvest 112,384 deer in 2016 January 11, 2017 West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
     Preliminary counts indicate West Virginia hunters harvested 112,384 white-tailed deer during the recently completed bucks firearms, antlerless, muzzleloader, archery, crossbow, and youth/Class Q/Class XS deer seasons, according to Paul Johansen, chief of the Division of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Resources Section. This year’s total harvest was 19 percent below the 2015 deer harvest of 138,493 and 15 percent below the five-year average of 
     A breakdown of the combined 2016 deer seasons reveals 46,071 bucks harvested during the traditional buck firearm season, 32,508 antlerless deer taken during all antlerless firearm hunting opportunities, 28,808 deer harvested by bows and crossbows, and 4,997 deer taken by muzzleloader hunters...

Some bold (and not-so-bold) predictions for 2017 December 31, 2016 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... the state’s brand-new elk herd will expand. Six of the 12 cow elk brought to West Virginia for the Dec. 19 stocking tested pregnant... The 2014 season was wretchedly bad. The 2015 season was deceptively good. The 2016 season, which just ended, appears to have split the difference between the two... 

Antlerless deer season will begin this week December 25, 2016 West Virginia, Beckley Register-Herald
... The scarce mast this year will cause less food to be available in the winter woods and some deer may even starve to death... The bag limit for antlerless deer varies from county to county and it’s up to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to decide, based on population densities...

Time will tell on the W.Va. elk herd December 23, 2016 West Virginia,, West Virginia MetroNews
... those 24 animals which were trucked into the West Virginia coalfields from western Kentucky are wandering around their new home ... the southern coalfields of West Virginia were the ONLY choice... The southern coalfields have no farming and so far ... no cases of CWD...

W.Va. buck harvest is way down December 10, 2016 West Virginia, The Inter Mountain
... In 2016, deer hunters harvested 45,871 bucks during the buck-gun season, which ran from Nov. 2 through Dec. 3. This is down from 60,814 back in 2015, or 24.6 percent ...

Buck numbers near DNR prediction December 9, 2016 West Virginia, West Virginia MetroNews
... The buck harvest decreased in all six state DNR districts... mainly being blamed ... on an increased number of acorns in 2016 compared to the acorn crop production in 2015. In addition, according to the DNR, high winds across much of the state limited deer activity and decreased success rates on the first two days of the season...

CWD concern has WV DNR checking deer in Hampshire, Hardy counties November 26, 2016 West Virginia, wvgazettemail.com
... they had to take their kills to be tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD). Biologists at nine special game-checking stations took tissue samples from the animals ... “We need to keep track of the disease’s distribution and prevalence,” ...

WV’s antlerless-deer kill should increase in 2016, DNR says November 20, 2016 West Virginia, wvgazettemail.com
... this year’s antlerless-deer bag limits are more liberal than last year’s in several counties. Second, more counties are open to antlerless-deer hunting this year... Mast conditions are closer to average than they have been in quite some time...

2016 West Virginia deer firearms season fact sheet November 18, 2016 West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
... Approximately 330,000 deer hunters ... In 2015, the traditional bucks-only firearm season harvest of antlered bucks was 60,814, an increase of 62 percent from the 2014 harvest. This is 20 percent more than the five-year average bucks-only harvest of 50,795 and ranks 24th among all past years...


Fairmont, Three more deer found dead in Fairmont November 10, 2016 West Virginia, Times West Virginian
... Since August, 10 deer have been found shot to death in different areas in Fairmont ... found a male yearling without antlers shot one time in the side. It was struggling to stay alive ...

Stay informed about Chronic Wasting Disease October 31, 2016 West Virginia, Bluefield Daily Telegraph
CWD was first recognized in captive mule deer at a research facility at Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1967. Since then there is a long list of dates and ...
... Using deer urine and other gland-based scents increases the risk of spreading CWD into other areas. This may be hottest topic on CWD in the hunting industry world. Many state wildlife biologists have taken a firm stand and said that the risk is too high to allow the use of natural deer urine by hunters...

WV’s deer hunting is quite different today than it was in 1980 October 29, 2016 West Virginia, wvgazettemail.com
... In 1980, hunters’ focused almost exclusively on bucks. The DNR so limited the number of antlerless-deer permits that hunters were required to enter a lottery to obtain one... There are still hunters who won’t kill a doe, but I think the typical hunter now recognizes that he or she has an obligation to help manage the resource by removing antlerless deer from the population.” ...

Fairmont, ‘All possibilities’ in deer killings explored October 28, 2016 West Virginia, Times West Virginian
... 10 deer have been killed by gunshot wounds within the city limits of Fairmont... police continue to investigate the incidents along with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources ...

Hunting seasons bring in big bucks October 22, 2016 West Virginia, Huntington Herald Dispatch
... "Statewide, deer hunting generates approximately $422 million in retail sales each year," said Randy Tucker, planner analyst for the DNR. "It also is responsible for creating around 5,377 jobs as well." ...

State's early antlerless-deer hunting season is tough to predict October 16, 2016 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail 
... DNR biologists ... allow hunters to remove substantial numbers of females from the statewide deer herd in advance of the whitetail mating season.  With fewer females for bucks to chase, the rationale goes, the breeding season would be shortened and the following year’s fawn drop would take place over a shorter period; which, through the sheer number of fawns, would make the newborns vulnerable to coyotes and other predators...

West Virginia Deer Forecast for 2016 October 11, 2016 Game & Fish
... West Virginia’s deer herd is relatively stable ... hronic Wasting Disease — found in deer in Hampshire and Hardy counties — is a threat to the state’s deer herd ... 

DNR searches for alleged deer poacher in Hurricane September 11, 2016 West Virginia, WSAZ-TV
... Friday night in Hurricane behind Hurricane Chevrolet... the suspect's trail camera  ... photos show the suspect loading a dead deer into his Jeep Liberty...

CWD sampling of Hampshire, Hardy counties deer will be mandatory August 3, 2016 West Virginia, Cumberland Times News Homepage
... Hunters who kill deer in Hampshire and Hardy counties on Nov. 21-22 -- the first two days of the buck firearms season -- will be required to take the carcasses to sampling stations where they will be checked for the presence of chronic wasting disease...

Bridgeport's annual urban deer hunt returns to thin population July 27, 2016 West Virginia, The Exponent Telegram
... Greer said that after speaking with a Department of Natural Resources’ biologist, he found that the reason the deer population is so high in Bridgeport is because there is too much forage, causing the deer to mate and inhabit the area...

Kingwood, Still legal to feed deer in town July 27, 2016 West Virginia, The DPost
... Kingwood Council voted down an ordinance that would have made it illegal to feed deer in town...

WV's chronic wasting disease problem expands with each passing year July 17, 2016 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail 
... Today the disease has spread from the Hampshire County town of Slanesville, where the buck was found, into parts of Hardy County... In the 39-square-mile area of Hampshire County where DNR officials most closely study the disease, CWD can be found in approximately one in every four whitetails...

...  Cranberry Garden Club asked council to consider an urban deer hunt in the future, and support the crop damage permit... amendment to the ordinance governing the carrying and using of weapons in the town now permits residents to use a bow or crossbow to shoot deer destroying crops...

Kanawha planners approve recommendation for Sunday hunting June 8, 2016 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail 
... the law would only allow Sunday hunting on privately owned land with written permission from the landowner.  “It’s harder to kill deer on private land than it is public land,” Shaw said. “Most public areas we have a lot of hunting pressure already.” ...

DNR reminds residents of wildlife laws June 7, 2016 West Virginia, Bluefield Daily Telegraph
...  it is not illegal in West Virginia for humans to feed deer ... Anytime you gather animals together in that type of situation, the chance for them spreading disease from one to another increases ...

Chronic wasting disease found in seven more W.Va. deer May 26, 2016 West Virginia, Cumberland Times-News
... All of the deer were harvested by hunters during the 2015 season and all came from the central portion of Hampshire County where CWD was first confirmed more than a decade ago...

Kingwood to investigate possible 'Urban Hunting,' Council will meet with DNR April 29,. 2016 West Virginia, The Exponent Telegram
... “Can we pass an ordinance where we can kill deer during the summer time,” ... “There is a process with the DNR that we would have to go through to do something like this,” Stiles said. “We also need legal advice from the DNR and our council.” ...

Kingwood, DNR to meet over deer population April 26, 2016 West Virginia, The DPost
... Kingwood Council is considering passing an ordinance to allow a bow deer hunt in town....

Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer March 2, 2016 West Virginia, WCHS
... One of the things that we're doing here at West Virginia University is using genetics to investigate how chronic wasting disease spreads over the landscape ... we've only detected chronic wasting disease in West Virginia in Hampshire county and also Hardy county...

QDMA responds to Wilson's remarks February 26, 2016 West Virginia, West Virginia MetroNews
... Commissioner Kenny Wilson expressed he would not support a motion to lower West Virginia’s buck limit which presently stands at three ...  [ Jeremy Preston, President of Mountaineer Quality Deer Management  said]:  “We’re looking for a more natural, older age structure of deer. More balanced sex ratios, harvests that are more one to one and not more heavily skewed toward bucks,” ...

DNR proposes more liberal deer, bear, turkey seasons for 2016 February 21, 2016 West Virginiga, Charleston Gazette-Mail 
... “Typically when harvests are up, it means we are at or above our harvest objectives and need to allow additional harvest to bring the populations back to prescribed levels.” Under the proposals, antlerless deer bag limits would become more liberal in 21 counties or parts of counties, more restrictive in two, and would remain the same in 33...

Some tips for finding shed deer antlers February 7, 2016 West Virginia, Times West Virginian 
...  antlers are most likely to hit the ground between now and the end of the February... Bucks are all about keeping their bellies full. So you need to find the top food sources in your grounds that are drawing in deer...

... venison is now allowed for sale to the consumer.  The meat being sold is not wild hunted deer. It comes from licensed deer farmers ...

West Virginia Data: Deer population around 825,000 in 2015, up because of a good acorn crop and reduced hunting of antlerless deer in 2014 and into 2015.  Also, a 30 percent reduction in the buck kill for 2014 triggered automatic limit reductions in several counties.  For 2016, antlerless deer permits were increased to moderate population growth.  A good acorn crop in 2016 contributed to a lower deer harvest as deer did not move around as much for food, fewer acorns in 2015 increased the chances of a hunter finding deer, increasing the harvest.  Deer population of about 750,000 in 2014 pre-hunt, down from 900,000 or higher prior to hunting season in 2013.  A snowy winter in 2013-14 reduced food sources.  The deer harvest declined by 34 percent in 2014, a newly appointed DNR chief has a goal of rebuilding the deer population.   The good acorn crop that provided ample food and weather conditions, including high winds on opening day along with rain and snow during the 2014 season are also thought to have contributed to the decline. 
     The poor acorn acorn crop in 2013, forcing deer to move around more contributed to the 14 percent increase in the deer harvest.  The acorn crop was also very low in 2012. The 2013  harvest increase also reflects an increase in the antlerless deer harvest designed to reduce the deer population.   In 2013, 76 percent of counties were still above population goals. Deer populations are down by as much as one half in the high mountain areas where reduced logging has resulted in a more mature forests and less deer browse.  A low of about 1,000 deer in 1910.   Click to enlarge the West Virginia deer harvest graphic below from the 2015 Big Game Report.  About 300,000 deer hunters in 2014, about 330,000 in 2015 and 2016.  More than 40 deer farms in 2016.
     Chronic Wasting Disease was first discovered in a road killed deer in 2005 in Hampshire County. The disease continues to spread slowly throughout the state with 29 of 591 tissue samples testing positive in the county in 2014. A total of 183 positives into 2015, 235 into early 2017.
   The DNR has encouraged balanced demographics in the herd.  Twenty years ago 70 percent of the bucks taken in the firearm season were 1.5 years, by 2012 bucks of 2.5 years or older were 58 percent. Antlered deer were about 50 percent of the 2013 harvest, the goal in 2014 was to increase anterless deer killed somewhat to reduce the population.
     In 1909, the West Virginia legislature passed laws to preserve the herd.  By 1910 there were only about 1,000 deer remaining in the state.  A restocking effort began, the herd slowly grew, but deer hunting was closed in 1924 - 1926.  As a result of over hunting, deer populations declined and were becoming somewhat scarce by 1941.  A large deer kill in 1951 depleted the herd there were large changes in the deer harvest over the next decades as the state varied policy from buck only to hunter's choice.  Sources: Keeping today’s deer hunting in perspective,  Restocking deer in West Virginia.
    Elk  The last native elk was killed in the late 1800's.

Other useful links: 
-  West Virginia Wildlife Management Area Maps   - Elk Management Plan [PDF]

News from WVDNR


Deer Management: There are two components of deer management: harvest management and habitat management. Both are important in determining the quality and quantity of the deer population; however, harvest management is the component which is most often overlooked in a good deer management program...

Source:  WDNR


Fundamentals of Deer Management File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat . . . developing an ideal deer management program. Different objectives may require totally different management actions ... basic deer management programs.