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Deer hunters head for the woods

by Gary A. Harki

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Buck season again has descended upon West Virginia, and hunters are prowling the woods looking for that perfect deer to bring home.

There is a good outlook for those in search of that mammoth buck, despite the rainy weather.

Hoy Murphy, public information officer with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, said his agency will be kept on its toes for the next two weeks.

"Everyone has been busy and out all day," Murphy said. "The weather is a factor, of course; after that beautiful weekend we are now getting all this sleet and hail and rain."

Local checking stations, such as the Pumphouse Express in Salem, reported good first-day kills. By late afternoon Monday, the checking station reported four eight-point deer and two six-point deer.

"Things are going pretty well," said Bernadette Richards, an employee of Pumphouse Express. "Hunters are saying it's pretty cold, though."

The weather is expected to let up for part of the week, according to Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist.

"It looks like we should have a couple of very nice days, with some fairly light winds," Sosnowski said. "Tuesday and Wednesday should be good for hunting."

A storm system should move through the area Thursday, bringing rain and snow in the mountains, which helps in tracking, Sosnowski said.

The DNR has 30 biologists at random game check stations throughout the state to survey the deer that are coming in, Murphy said.

"They check their health, size and age," Murphy said. "It gives us an idea of what areas are at carrying capacity."

Smaller deer often point to overpopulation, but buck season does little to keep the deer population in check, Murphy said.

"It doesn't matter how many bucks you kill in keeping the population down," Murphy said. "Harvesting antlerless deer, the females, is what keeps the population down. We have noticed that the population seems to be going down, and we are expecting fewer deer harvested this year."

The annual hunting season brings close to $248 million in revenues into West Virginia, Murphy said. Much of that money goes to rural areas where hunters buy equipment and camp, Murphy said.

There were no hunting fatalities due to gunshots during last year's season, Murphy said.

No hunting-related fatalities had been reported, Murphy said Monday afternoon.