West Virginia Deer:   About 550,000 deer in 2017.  A mild 2018-19 winter was been of deer reproduction success, but an outbreak of EHD reduced populations in some regions into 2019.  The population had been on a managed decline for about two decades, peaking in the early 2000's.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical West Virginia deer hunting data and news archive.

West Virginia Deer News

WV hunters harvest 106,861 deer during fall, winter seasons February 8, 2021 West Virginia DNR News
... According to preliminary data collected by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, hunters in the Mountain State harvested 106,861 white-tailed deer during the 2020-2021 fall and winter seasons.  The harvest was 7.5 percent higher than the 2019 harvest of 99,437 deer and 6 percent below the five-year average of 113,444..,

... hunters in the Mountain State harvested 106,861 white-tailed deer during the 2020-2021 fall and winter seasons.  The harvest was 7.5% higher than the 2019 harvest of 99,437 deer and 6% below the five-year average of 113,444... a complete breakdown of harvest data ..,

... the total harvest of 38,776 was the second-lowest in recent history and 10% under the average for the last five years... Hunters bagged just 36,472 whitetails in 2019, 18% fewer than in 2018 and 22% fewer than the five-year average. It was the lowest buck harvest in more than 30 years..,

Antlerless season should extend opportunities for discouraged deer hunters December 6, 2020 West Virginia, The Herald-Dispatch
... Weather during the buck season’s first three days usually determines the number of deer that get killed. This year’s opening-day weather looked good in the state’s lower elevations, but up high it wasn’t good at all..,

Optimism high for this year’s buck season, DNR says November 22, 20202 West Virginia, The Herald-Dispatch
... “This year’s hard-mast index was down 22% from the long-term average,” Johansen said. “Soft mast was bad, too.  “Deer tend to move a bit more when mast isn’t abundant. Deer will be traveling to oak flats where red/black and scarlet oak acorns are present.” ..,

Attitude change is leading to bigger bucks in West Virginia November 19, 2020
West Virginia MetroNews
... “Back in the 90’s or even earlier our age structure on the harvest we were having 60 or 70 percent yearlings. Now, some counties which we’ve been able to look at, our percent yearlings in the harvest is in the high 20 percent range. That’s had a big influence,” ...

Deer hunting season could be a good one for area November 11, 2020 West Virginia, The Winchester Star
... “The harvest was up a tiny bit last year from the year before, and it should be about the same again this year,” said Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources district biologist Fred Frenzel. “The acorn crop, it’s one of those years where it’s kind of spotty. The white oaks are not doing well in most places, but the red oak group, on the average ..,

Outlook improves for October antlerless-deer hunt October 17, 2020 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... Of all the oak species, only red/black oak and scarlet oak acorns are relatively abundant. White oak, chestnut oak and scrub oak are far less abundant.  The lack of oak mast — particularly white oak — should concentrate deer in areas of relative abundance, or drive them to hunters’ corn feeders...

West Virginia ranked highest risk for animal collision October 8, 2020 Clarksburg-Weston WDTV
... West Virginia drivers have a 1 in 37 chance of colliding with an animal while driving... COVID also has had an impact on animal strikes. Compared to last year at the same time, there has been a 20% decrease (more than 70,000 claims) in animal collisions due to less drivers being on the road ...

Mast decline could benefit WV's hunters this fall October 3, 2020 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... the Division of Natural Resources’ 2020 Mast Report ... White oak acorns, ordinarily a staple for wildlife, came in 54% below the survey’s long-term average. Chestnut oak is 57% less abundant than usual. Beechnuts, walnuts and hickory nuts are down 45%, 30% and 48%, respectively. Apples, cherries, grapes, and other “soft mast” items are just as scarce, if not more so..,

W.Va.'s Elk Population Grows To 85 September 18, 2020 West Virginia Public Broadcasting
... wildlife managers for the WVDNR were able to confirm the births of about 15 calves, bringing the state total elk population to 85... Five years ago, the WVDNR started its elk restoration project at the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County ..,

Ronceverte, Urban Deer Hunt not reinstated in Ronceverte September 16, 2020 West Virginia, mountainmessenger.com
... “We’ve had … numerous land owners ask us about trying to come on our property and ask us about killing the deer because it’s eating up all their shrubs ... “My concern, which is the same concern I had last year when I voted against it, does involve if they’re hunting in daylight hours in city limits, where my children are outside playing and my neighbors do live close to our home,” said Pack...

Oak mast determines deer sightings September 13, 2020 West Virginia, The Dominion Post
... When there is a good mast deer do not move around a lot.  They find those oaks that are producing and dropping lots of acorns and they feed there.  No need to go to fields where they become more visible ... In 2019, West Virginia had a good mast and for that reason, plus some bad weather, the buck harvest was low..,

Natural Resource Commission makes questionable decisions August 25, 2020 West Virginia, Huntington Herald Dispatch
... Advocates for lowering the buck limit from three to two per year in our state suffered a puzzling defeat   ... Many sportsmen of our state feel it will help put needed pressure on antlerless deer in areas where they are in excess. This approach would have put West Virginia on the path to achieving a more balanced doe-to-buck ratio and an older, more natural age structure ...

Dog reduces wildlife, aircraft encounters at WVa airport  August 22, 2020 West Virginia, Fort Worth Business Press
... the 3-year-old border collie ...   charged with keeping birds and other forest-dwelling animals off Yeager Airport’s runways ... Prior to Hercules’ tenure at the airport, wildlife strikes have included at least two coyotes, two deer ...

WV Natural Resources Commission narrowly rejects lower buck limit August 2, 2020 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... The state’s buck limit had stood at three since 1995, when the commission reversed a 1994 decision to lower the limit to two. In recent years, pressure from members of two hunter groups — West Virginians for Better Buck Management and the Quality Deer Management Association — convinced some commission members to consider a reduction...

... annual urban deer hunt ... Application cost is $10 per hunter ... Bow and crossbow hunting is permitted ...

Mild winter and spring could boost deer numbers, antler size July 4, 2020 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... “We had abnormally mild weather through the winter months, so deer should have made it through the winter on a pretty high nutritional plane ... Reproduction appears to be pretty good.” ...  largely offset by a 47% drop in white oak and a 49% drop in chestnut oak..,

Survey finds near even split in opinions on buck limit June 6, 2020 West Virginia, West Virginia MetroNews
... Southwick’s research concluded if deer hunting privileges were reduced and the price was unchanged the result would be a loss of roughly 6,300 licenses sold and a loss in revenue of more than $220,000. Raising the price of the license by 10 percent under the same circumstances would translate to a loss of roughly 40,000 licenses sold and a reduction in revenue to the DNR of more than $1.2 million...

Deer harvest shows another decrease April 18, 2020 West Virginia, The Inter-Mountain
... The total white-tailed deer harvest for 2019 was 99,437. This is a 9 percent decrease from the 108,856 total harvest in 2018. The last time the statewide total deer harvest was below 100,000 animals was back in 1985, or more than 30 years ago...

... Gov. Jim Justice signed into law a bill amending the natural resources code making West Virginia the 40th state to allow hunters to track wounded big game with leashed dogs ...

Looking At W.Va.'s Elk Herd Four Years In March 13, 2020 West Virginia, West Virginia Public Broadcasting
... Much of West Virginia's elk reintroduction program is modeled after Kentucky’s, which is more than 20 years old... West Virginia’s herd of about 80 elk live on the over 35,000-acre Tomblin and Laurel Lake Wildlife Management Area that is primarily reclaimed strip mines ...

DNR stands pat on deer regulations despite buck-harvest decline February 29, 2020 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... Clearly, DNR biologists don’t believe what many hunters seem to believe — that whitetail numbers are in serious decline. The buck- and antlerless-harvest numbers would seem to dispute that, but agency biologists aren’t buying it...

DNR proposes adding a day to buck season–and a week of spring gobbler hunting February 23, 2020 West Virginia, West Virginia MetroNews
...  The DNR proposes lowering the bag limit of antlerless deer to one in northern Kanawha County, Mason, and Wirt Counties. The rest of the antlerless deer restrictions would remain the same as 2019... One proposal would extend the buck season one more day to include the second Sunday after Thanksgiving...

Statewide deer kill hits 37-year low, but bow and muzzleloader hunters prosper  February 15, 2020, West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... The buck kill fell 17 percent... the EHD outbreak did lead to localized deer-herd declines across a swath of the state that stretched between Summers County in the south to Harrison County in the north...  hunters’ fears over disease concerns might have reached a peak ..,

... estimated that hunters harvested 99,437 deer during the season. The season’s harvest was nine percent below the 2018 harvest of 108,856 deer, and 13 percent below the five-year average of 114,520... 

Brain parasite has killed 30 percent of elk cows and calves imported from Arizona February 1, 2020 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... Almost one-third of the 46 elk cows and calves imported from Arizona died of brainworm in 2019 ... DNR biologists believe a U.S. Department of Agriculture mandate to hold elk imported from Arizona for an additional 90 days weakened the animals and made them less able to resist brainworm, a parasite that doesn’t affect deer but can be lethal to elk..,

Antler scores grow in popularity in West Virginia January 22, 2020 West Virginia MetroNews
... The changing culture of deer hunting has created more and more demand for those who are certified scorers with the Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young scoring systems...

... the total Eastern Panhandle count for Chronic Wasting Disease for the 2019-2020 hunting season is 22 hunter-harvested deer out of 716 samples ... Added to figures from June 2019, the total number of confirmed CWD cases in deer in the Eastern Panhandle is 398 ...

Ancient West Virginia forests once a mosaic of landscapes January 3, 2020, West Virginia Explorer
... Historians once assumed West Virginia had been shaded by a vast unbroken forest ... Records from the 1700s and archaeological evidence uncovered more recently indicate that vast areas had been burned to create grasslands to make hunting and farming easier ... Only about one percent of forest fires were started by lightning strikes, and the rest were manmade...

Low buck harvest no cause for alarm, DNR says January 2, 2020 West Virginia, Huntington Herald Dispatch
... “This year’s archery kill, unofficially, appears to be on pace to equal last year’s [26,636], which would indicate our deer herd has not suffered any significant decline. Yes, the buck harvest was lower than we thought it would be, but that’s not a sign that the world’s coming to an end.” ...

'Family seasons' will be W.Va. deer hunters' last hurrah for 2019 December 26, 2019 West Virginia, Huntington Herald Dispatch
... Red oak acorns were especially abundant in early fall. Their presence not only scattered deer widely throughout the countryside, but also made deer less likely to visit the corn piles many deer hunters use ... a late-summer outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease killed substantial numbers of deer in localized pockets from Marion County in the north to Summers County in the south..,

Low buck harvest no cause for alarm, DNR says December 21, 2019 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... They figured the number of deer had remained essentially constant since 2015, but this year’s abundant red-oak acorn crop might scatter deer throughout the woods and make them less vulnerable to people hunting in fields or over bait..,

Harvest down during two-week buck firearms season December 14, 2019 West Virginia, West Virginia Explorer
... Preliminary data collected from the electronic game checking system indicates hunters in West Virginia harvested 36,796 antlered deer during the two-week buck firearms season, which ran from Nov. 25 through Dec. 7, 2019. The 2019 harvest was 17 percent below that of the 2018 harvest ...

  Rare West Virginia deer harvest sparks major controversy online December 11, 2019 West Virginia, WOWKtv
... Years ago an injured baby fawn ... white with brown spots, was brought to Kanawha County veterinarian ... cared for the deer, which he named “Skip” until the buck was healthy enough to roam free... a well known and loved member of the community due to his kind demeanor and rare look ... a photo was posted of a proud teenaged hunter and his harvest, people were infuriated. The kill was Skip...

WV's traditional antlerless-deer season takes on added significance December 7, 2019 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
...    the buck harvest during the first week of the 13-day hunt was running 10,000 to 15,000 below the previous year’s total.  In 2018, hunters bagged roughly 38,000 bucks during the season’s opening week. A fall-off of 10,000 to 15,000 would place this year’s one-week total in the 23,000-to-28,000 range...

Chronic Wasting Disease, Ag Commissioner advocates for federal CWD task force December 4, 2019 West Virginia, West Virginia MetroNews
... “Normally I’m a small state guy and advocate for states’ rights and things of that nature, but when you have a disease that is obviously spreading to other states, it’s time for the federal government to step in and take a lead on coordinating those efforts,” ...

... When the season opens on Monday morning, more than 250,000 hunters will take to the woods in pursuit of their favorite game animal. By the time the season ends, those hunters will have pumped roughly $230 million into the Mountain State economy...

Mast survey reveals good news for all wildlife October 20, 2019 West Virginia, The Register-Herald
...  Deer prefer white oak acorns over all the other oak species. However, white oak production was down 63 percent compared to last year... The deer will be in the red, black and scarlet oak stands this year ...

The biological basis for deer hunting October 13, 2019 West Virginia, The Register-Herald
... In 1970, Graeme Caughley suggested that the mule deer population explosion on the Kaibab Plateau was due more to the recovery of the range than to the disappearance of predators. It turns out that while predators were being removed from the area, so were domestic livestock. At least 200,000 sheep and 20,000 cattle were removed at the same time the predators were exterminated. Caughley argued that deer flourished not because predators disappeared, but because the elimination of domestic grazers provided a virtually unlimited food supply for deer...

Mast Plentiful in 2019 for West Virginia wildlife September 28, 2019 West Virginia MetroNews
...  but for the most sought-after item on the menu for white tail deer, the cupboard is almost bare. “The white oak is down a lot,” ... 2019 WVDNR MAST SURVEY AND HUNTING OUTLOOK... "The total white-tailed deer harvest in 2019 should be similar to the harvest in 2018." ..,

Extra week should boost bowhunters' success, DNR says September 22, 2019 West Virginia, Huntington Herald Dispatch
...  last year’s mild winter weather helped deer to survive the lean months in relatively good condition. When that happens, female deer usually enjoy better reproductive success ..,

Unfortunately, corn is a 'mast crop' that's always abundant September 14, 2019 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... corn piles and mechanical feeders lure untold numbers of animals to feed on protein-poor, carbohydrate-rich grain put there for one purpose: To make sure those animals stay in place long enough for humans to put arrows or bullets in them...

EHD, Disease found in white-tailed deer in West Virginia August 23, 2019 West Virginia, 12WBOY
...  deer have been found dead in small areas of Summers, Monroe and Greenbrier counties... EHD, virus serotype 2 (EHDV-2) has been isolated from Summers County. Hemorrhagic Disease can be caused by either EHDV or Blue Tongue Virus (BTV,) ...

... "A big issue is estimated cost in loss of revenue on licenses sales if the buck limit was dropped,"  [Paul Johansen, Division of Natural Resources section chief] ... Those who advocate for the reduced limit have a perception that lowering the bag limit would allow deer to grow to an older age and produce larger antlers...

Vienna not to hold urban deer hunt this year June 27, 2019 West Virginia, TheNewsCenter
... After several residents spoke out against the idea during Thursday's city council meeting, a resolution that would have authorized the city to apply for a permit from the state of West Virginia failed to get the support of council...

WV's environmental bounceback has been great for fish and wildlife June 12, 2019 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
...  in 1968, the statewide overall deer harvest was 10,547,” Johansen said. “Last year, it was 108,856. We were able to expand the deer population from that low number by cutting back on the harvest of antlerless deer... “Our bear population back in the mid-to-late 1970s was about 500,” he continued. “Now we estimate it's between 12,000 and 14,000.”..,

Boone deer story harks back to a time when whitetails were hard to find June 1, 2019 West Virginia, Charleston Daily Mail
... In the 1930s and 1940s, biologists in West Virginia — like those in many states — believed the fastest way to replenish wildlife populations was to raise them on farms and release them into the wild... By the late 1940s, it was starting to dawn on wildlife officials that raising game animals in pens wasn’t an effective way to help those critters deal with life in the real world...

Special deer hunts to be held in six WV parks this fall May 31, 2019 West Virginia, Williamson Daily News
... Hunters who wish to participate will be required to pay $10 to register in a lottery ... ..."This year, there are more hunts in which hunters must take an antlerless deer before they're allowed to take a buck," ...

DNR releases summary of questionnaire May 25, 2019 West Virginia, The Inter-Mountain
... DNR sought the opinion as to whether hunters would be in favor of reducing the annual antlered deer bag limit from three to two antlered bucks per year. Sixty-nine percent of the individuals were in favor of this, to 31 percent who were opposed...

Big game harvest numbers now official April 13, 2019 West Virginia, The Inter-Mountain
... The total white-tailed deer harvest for the 2018 hunting season was 108,856. This is within one percent of the 2017 harvest of 108,160. A total of 44,599 antlered deer taken during the traditional two-week buck gun season...

Morgan County deer tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease April 3, 2019 West Virginia, Morgan Messenger
... the deer was found along the Berkeley County line right along the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area... The total Eastern Panhandle count ... for the fall hunting season is 350 deer in Hampshire County, six deer in Hardy County, 15 deer in Berkeley County, four deer in Mineral County and one deer in Morgan ...

CWD fears could hamper WV's elk restoration effort March 16, 2019 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies ... consider the movement of live animals as “the greatest risk for CWD introduction into unaffected areas.”  Southwestern West Virginia, which received elk stockings in 2016 and 2018 from Kentucky and Arizona, is considered an unaffected area...

WVDNR to hold sectional regulation meetings March 10, 2019 West Virginia, Williamson Daily News
...  lowering the buck harvest limit from 3 antlered bucks to 2 is being discussed  ... establishment of the Little Kanawha Wildlife Area in Wirt and Calhoun counties as an older-age deer management area. If this proposal passes, there will be antler restrictions in place on the WMA to allow the bucks to get a little older...

Here are the DNR's antlerless-deer proposals for 2019 March 2, 2019 West Virginia, Charleston Daily Mail
... officials recommended only one significant change — opening up selected public lands to antlerless-deer hunting during the four-day October “early” antlerless season... Up to now, only private lands have been open during the October season...

Deer hunting legislation fails in Senate committee February 22, 2019 West Virginia, West Virginia MetroNews
... failed on a voice vote Friday in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Senate Bill 586 called for limiting the Natural Resources Commission to setting the buck limit annually at no more than two...
     Does Legislature want to go back to 'bad old days' of deer management? February 16, 2019 West Virginia, Charleston Daily Mail 
... West Virginia lawmakers only learned after decades of embarrassing attempts to manage the deer herd.  They’re the folks whose biological ineptitude brought us the Tucker Buck War of 1951, which so decimated the whitetail population that it took almost a decade to recover...
     Legislation would lower buck limit and raise license fees February 12, 2019 West Virginia, West Virginia MetroNews
... The legislation would reduce the current limit of three bucks annually to two and would restrict hunters to only one buck per hunting implement... The price for the Class A resident hunting and trapping license would immediately rise from $18 to $48. The Class E non-resident hunting and trapping license would jump from $110 to $250...

WV's 2018 whitetail harvest: Slight gains in all areas except antlerless deer February 9, 2019 West Virginia, Charleston Daily Mail ·
... Gains made during the buck, archery/crossbow and muzzleloader hunts were enough to offset a 2.5 percent decline in the antlerless-deer harvest. Antlerless kills as a whole have fallen steadily over the past six seasons ... despite the efforts of state wildlife officials to create additional antlerless-deer hunting opportunities...

... Hunters in West Virginia registered 108,856 white-tailed deer through the electronic game checking system during the recently completed buck firearms, antlerless, muzzleloader, archery, crossbow, youth/Class Q/Class XS and Mountaineer Heritage seasons. The total harvest was within 1 percent of the 2017 deer harvest of 108,160 and 11 percent below the five-year average of 122,924 ..,

Constant vigilance keeps WV's elk out of poachers' hands January 12, 2019 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... “We’ve let people know that we can track these animals in real time, and that we get a mortality signal immediately when one of them dies,” Ballard said. “Poachers realize they won’t be able to get out of the hills with a poached elk before we can be there.” ...

Visiting West Virginia During the Ice Age January 2, 2019 West Virginia Public Broadcasting
...during the warmer periods of the ice age ... familiar creatures, such as deer... it would warm up and the Virginia deer would be here, the white tail deer... there were extreme changes back and forth through time throughout the Pleistocene ...

Will the headlong pursuit of 'booners' harm deer hunting's future? December 29, 2018 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... Every year, from mid-August to the end of December, most of the chatter in hunting-related social media sites centers on trophy bucks. People post game-camera pictures of bucks, often accompanied by the question, “Do you think it’s a booner?” ...a buck with a rack large enough to qualify for the Boone & Crockett record book...

WV's buck kill 1 percent higher than last year's, DNR says December 15, 2018 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... firearm season for buck deer...  which ended Dec. 1, hunters killed 44,572 bucks, a 1 percent increase from the previous year’s total...

Kayakers Help a Swimming Deer Escape From a Pack of Dogs December 10, 2018 West Virginia, WKRG News 5
... Three people in kayaks hear barking and discover a pack of dogs in the water going after a deer in a West Virginia waterway  They paddle over to help and chase the canines away.  The scared, exhausted and shivering deer stays close ...

A few guys out fishing in West Virginia suddenly heard loud barking coming from down the creek. The fishermen found a young buck stuck in the water and surrounded by a pack of dogs. After chasing them away, the men helped the deer get to safety.


Gas developer helps fund restoration in wildlife-management area December 7, 2018 West Virginia, West Virginia Explorer
... will include the application of herbicides in pre-timber and post-timber harvesting units to control undesirable vegetation and promote productive woodland regeneration for wildlife. ...

... Preliminary data collected from the electronic game checking system indicates that deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 44,572 antlered deer during the two-week buck firearms season ... The 2018 harvest was 1 percent higher than the 2017 harvest...

Sunday deer hunting expected to contribute to WV economy November 25, 2018 West Virginia, WV News
... This weekend will mark the first time West Virginians are allowed to hunt deer on Sundays statewide during the buck gun season. It’s expected to bring an additional boost to the hundreds of millions of dollars the state’s economy ...

... Berkeley and Mineral counties were designated as chronic wasting disease containment areas ... Disease models looking at herd density over time show that deer numbers will drop significantly... State deer and hunters face a bleak future unless something changes ...

... annual hunting license sales total more $9 million per year in West Virginia ... “In 2016-17, we sold $8.9 million worth of regular licenses, then we had some lifetime licenses. ... So I would say it’s between $9 million and $10 million in hunting license sales overall.” ...

WV's buck hunters are taking older, bigger-antlered deer November 17, 2018 Charleston Daily Mail 
... A couple of decades ago, most of the deer killed during the state’s two-week buck firearm season were yearlings with tiny antlers. Now, on the eve of the 2018 firearm season, the average buck is a full year older and has larger ...

... Deer hunters spend an estimated $230 million in West Virginia, much of it in the rural areas of the state that depend upon the deer seasons for a large portion of their annual income. Hunting is estimated to be responsible for 5,400 jobs and $35 million in sales taxes on goods and services spent in West Virginia..,

Two-week deer season quickly approaching November 9, 2018 West Virginia, The Inter-Mountain 
... the DNR estimates that 200,000 to 225,000 hunters will be going after that great deer with antlers... hunters are telling me that they have not seen the number of deer like they are seeing this year for several years...

Coyote diets in West Virginia November, 2018 Geriann Albers, West Virginia University
... white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to be the most frequently occurring item in samples at 59.5%, followed by plant material (39.7%), small mammals (19.3%), fruits and seeds (16.1%), and squirrels (Sciurus spp., Tamiasciurus hudsonicus ) and chipmunks (Tamias striatus; 11.4%). Deer also had the highest mean percent volume (44.9%), followed by small mammals (11.8%) ...

A look into West Virginia's long hunting history October 25, 2018 Charleston Gazette-Mail
... White settlers moved into the region in the 1720s. White-tailed deer ... numbers dwindle ... in 1909, the Legislature passed a bill that made it illegal to sell or ship game out of state. The bill also outlawed the killing of doe deer... . In 1923, with deer numbers still low, the Legislature closed the state to all whitetail hunting until 1927 ..,

The fall's first firearm deer season is almost upon us October 20, 2018 West Virginia, Charleston Daily Mail 
... “Holding an antlerless hunt this early in the fall is designed to remove female deer prior to the rut ... when you remove females that early, there are few available to bucks during the rut. That compresses all the breeding activity into a tighter time window ... Predators end up having more prey than they can handle, and that helps more fawns to survive.” [ Paul Johansen, the Division of Natural Resources’ wildlife chief]

West Virginia 2018 Mast Harvest and Hunting Outlook October 9, 2018 West Virginia, WVDNR
... The total white-tailed deer harvest should be higher in 2018 than it was in
2017... Field reports are showing a very healthy deer population and many good bucks. There is enough oak mast to put the animals in good shape going into the season ..,

... The likelihood of hitting a deer in West Virginia is actually down three percent over the previous year. There were 25,176 deer claims reported between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018...

Abundant acorns might disperse deer, but WV DNR still expects good archery kill September 22, 2018 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... white oak and chestnut oak trees have borne good crops of acorns this year... “Last year was a pretty good mast year, too, which means deer went into the winter well-fed,” ...The state’s deer population is highest in the northern and western counties ..,

Experts give WV high marks for elk-reintroduction effort September 15, 2018 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... Officials at the nearby Chief Logan Lodge and Conference Center recently started conducting “elk management tours” of the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area, the epicenter of the 44,000 newly acquired acres... Kentucky wildlife officials ... in the early 2000s ... imported 1,500 elk and placed them on reclaimed mine sites. Those elk not only survived, they thrived. Today, an estimated 11,000 elk ...

... The key to Shadow Valley Farm’s success is in the efforts staff go to in socializing their herd. Fawns are bottle fed, resulting in calm, healthy adults that are less likely to become stressed in working environments...

West Virginia DNR set to begin 'spotlight surveys' of deer herds August 10, 2018 The Herald-Dispatch
... Every year since 2012, agency biologists have slowly cruised the state's roads, shining powerful spotlights and counting every deer the beams illuminate... the spotlight surveys have essentially shown that population estimates based on the harvest were pretty accurate...

Deer hunter survey is timely, but questions need to be answered August 4, 2018 West Virging,  Charleston Daily Mail 
... For years, some hunters ... have argued that if DNR officials truly wanted hunters to take more antlerless deer, they’d allow one antlerless deer to be taken on the base license and only require Class N doe stamps for additional antlerless deer... question appears to be aimed at judging hunters’ sentiment toward that...

Bridgeport sets dates for annual urban deer hunt August 1, 2018 West Virginia, WV News
... Last year, 69 people participated in the hunt. The city does set a limit on participation. Each hunter can get a maximum of seven deer, though they must harvest two does before getting one buck and no more than two bucks total.  Despite hunters harvesting an average of more than 40 deer each year, their population has remained high in the city...

Chief Logan deer hunt controversy is over, at least for the moment June 30, 2018 West Virginia, Charleston Daily Mail
... the proposed Chief Logan State Park deer hunt had plenty of potential to be volatile ... “We have decided to cancel the hunt ... In recent months, we have received a great deal of emotional feedback from people for and against the hunt at Chief Logan. We don’t want to have a program that would drive a wedge in the community. It’s not worth turning neighbor against neighbor.” ...

CWD detected in two more West Virginia counties June 27, 2018 West Virginia, West Virginia MetroNews
...  The Mineral County deer was still alive and suffering from an unknown ailment...   it’s still east of the Allegheny Front.” ... rum hoped the spine of the Appalachians which divides West Virginia will serve as the barrier...

A deer along the Middle Fork River of West Virginia - June 19, 2018


DNR's controlled deer hunt halted by governor June 2, 2018 West Virginia, The Register-Herald
...  controlled deer hunt at Chief Logan State Park ... Those wishing to express their opinion can contact the Governor’s office via phone 304-558-2000 or at governor.wv.gov...

Elk in West Virginia? Believe it! May 27, 2018 Beckley Register-Herald
...  Sometime this week Elk Project Leader Randy Kelley, a Division of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, will open the gate on a large pen which holds 50 elk (brought here from Arizona) on a high ridge in the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County. The elk will hopefully leave quietly and join about 40 elk from Kentucky that have already been released in the area...

Opponents vow to fight proposed park hunt in southern W.Va. May 26, 2018 West Virginia, West Virginia MetroNews
...Despite opposition from a Logan County organization, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources plans to move ahead with a controlled hunt at Chief Logan State Park ... “We’ve been doing these since 2001 ...

...  Fifty elk transported from Arizona now officially call West Virginia “home.”  ... The free-ranging elk were captured in late January and held near Flagstaff, Arizona, for disease testing, before being transported in early March to a holding pen near Holden, West Virginia ..,

John McCoy: Park deer hunts approved, but Chief Logan hunt not assured May 5, 2018 West Virginia, Charleston Daily Mail
... More than 1,600 have signed petitions protesting the proposed hunt, and a small contingent of them recently traveled all the way to Canaan Valley to ask wildlife officials to leave Chief Logan off the list.  Scott Siegel, a veterinarian who treats animals housed in the park’s wildlife exhibit, said there’s simply no need to open the park to hunting...

DNR warns collectors to leave elk antlers alone April 27, 2018 West Virginia, 
Charleston Gazette-Mail
... two years ago, the Legislature formally made it legal pick up shed antlers...  Section 20-2-4 (a) applies only to antlers from white-tailed deer ... the only elk antlers that are legal for West Virginians to have are antlers from animals legally killed during hunting seasons...

10 WV state parks to host deer hunts in fall April 27, 2018 West Virginia, Williamson Daily News
...Twenty-one three-day managed hunts will take place in 10 parks - a sharp break from recent years, when single-day hunts were held in only one or two parks... Dr. Scott Siegel, a veterinarian at Logan Animal Hospital and a wildlife consultant at the park for nearly 30 years, said the deer population is actually "dramatically down" in Chief Logan, as much as 70 percent to 80 percent in the past 10 years...

Airport pays $7500 for dog to chase birds from runway April 2, 2018 West Virginia, Fox News
... an 18-month-old border collie named Hercules...  “It will keep birds, deer, coyotes, rabbits away from the airfield.” ...

Arizona elk arrive in West Virginia March 19, 2018 WVDNR News
... Fifty-one elk completed their journey from Arizona and were released into a holding facility in Logan County earlier this month.  The elk, which are part of West Virginia’s elk restoration project, were captured in late January and held near Flagstaff, Arizona for disease testing..,

10 WV state parks to host deer hunts this fall March 17, 2018 West Virginia, Charleston Daily Mail
... Twenty-one three-day managed hunts will take place in 10 parks — a sharp break from recent years, when single-day hunts were held in only one or two parks. Sam England, chief of the state’s Parks Section, said the main goal of conducting so many hunts is to protect the parks from the deer...

Tests show more chronic wasting disease in W.Va. deer March 9, 2018 West Virginia, Cumberland Times-News
... Of the 530 Hampshire County deer sampled for chronic wasting disease in November, 70 had the always fatal illness ... The number of West Virginia deer confirmed to have CWD since it was first discovered in 2005 now reached 332.,,

WV DNR proposes longer antlerless-deer seasons, lower bag limits March 3, 2018 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... Division of Natural Resources biologists have asked the state Natural Resources Commission to tack two days onto the two-part antlerless-deer season ... “We think this will give people who might be visiting the state to hunt an incentive to stay here one more day, and we think it will provide additional recreation for resident hunters.” ...

DNR seeks to expand WV's big-game hunting calendar past Dec. 31 February 25, 2018 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette-Mail
... would allow hunting to continue after the traditional closing day on Dec. 31. They also would like to split the seasons for wild boar and urban deer so they, too, continue into the following year...

West Virginia House opposes wasting hunters' prey February 5, 2018 Kansas City Star
... The West Virginia House has voted to make it a crime to waste game by leaving carcasses or just taking trophies such as heads, claws or feathers...

West Virginia Data: Deer population estimated at  550,000 in 2017.  The very mild 2019-20 winter resulting in higher fawn numbers was offset somewhat by a poor oak production in 2020.  The population in 2020 is thought to be about the same as 2019, although there was a sharp drop in the 2019 buck kill.  Another mild 2018-19 winter allowed for higher fawn survival into 2019.  The 2019 population was thought to be about the same as 2018 and approximately stable since 2015, even with the drop in the 2019 buck kill.  An abundant red acorn crop reduced deer movement and a late-summer outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease reduced deer populations in 2019.  
     An outbreak of EHD took a toll on some area populations in 2017.  Rising coyote populations are reducing deer populations throughout the southeast.  A good acorn crop contributed to the 4 percent decline in the 2017 deer hunt.  Another good crop in 2018.  The deer population had been on an upward trend 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.   2017 West Virginia Mast Survey and Hunting OutlookMature forests reducing deer habitat have contributed to a general declining population trend.  
     For 2016 with a relatively stable population, antlerless deer permits were increased to moderate population growth and reduce predation of fawns.  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.    
     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 population has been on a managed decline since the mid-2000's after the population peaked in the early 2000s at high densities.
     The poor 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.  By 2016 the disease had spread to Hardy County.  By 2017 one-quarter to one-third of deer in Hampshire County were infected.  A total of 183 positives into 2015, 235 into early 2017, 332 into early 2018, a total of 376 for the 2018 hunting season.
   Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD)  An outbreak in 2017.
   History   White-tailed deer numbers began to decline in the 1720s when settlers moved into the area. By the 1840s they were scarce in some areas.  In 1909, the Legislature passed a bill that made it illegal to sell or ship game out of state. The bill also outlawed the killing of doe deer.  By 1910 there were only about 1,000 deer remaining in the state.
      A restocking effort began, the herd slowly grew, so 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.  
     The DNR has encouraged balanced demographics in the herd.  In the early 1990s 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.  The increased doe kill starting in 1999 started a downward trend of the population into 2017 amplified by maturing hardwood forests that reduce deer food.  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.Sources: Keeping today’s deer hunting in perspective,  Restocking deer in West Virginia.
    Elk  A population of 85 in 2020.  The last native elk was killed in 1877.  A restocking program has brought deer in from Kentucky and Arizona since 2016.  Brainworm killed about 30 percent of the deer transported from Arizona in 2019.
     Bear  An estimated 12,000 to 14,000 in 2019.  About 500 in the mid to late 1970s.

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


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.