The West Virginia buck firearms season is Nov. 21 – Dec. 3, 2016. It is open in all counties except Logan, Mingo, McDowell and Wyoming.
Approximately 330,000 deer hunters will be in West Virginia’s woods during this season.
Hunters should review the 2016 – 2017 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary for detailed instructions concerning bag limits and season dates. The regulations are available at license agents, DNR district offices and online at www.wvdnr.gov.
All hunters must have an official DNR ID number in order to check game. The ID number can be found on the annual hunting license when purchased, or can be obtained by calling 304-558-2758 or logging on to wvhunt.com and providing the requested information. Game may be checked by telephone at 1-844-wvcheck, online at wvhunt.com or at any hunting license agent. All field tagging, transporting and possession requirements still apply.
Hunters may substitute a bow or a crossbow during the buck firearms season.
The buck deer bag limit during the two-week buck firearms season is two (one on the base license and one on an RG [resident] or RRG [nonresident] stamp). A hunter may take no more than three antlered deer per calendar year in all archery, crossbow and firearms seasons combined.
The last day to purchase an additional buck deer gun tag (Class RG/RRG Stamp) is Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. Class RG and Class RRG additional buck stamps can only be used to take an additional antlered deer during buck firearms season. Unused Class RG and Class RRG stamps may not be used in antlerless or muzzleloader seasons.
Fifty-one counties are open to concurrent antlerless deer season hunting during the traditional buck firearms season. Class N (resident) or Class NN (non-resident) stamps to hunt during the antlerless deer season can be purchased at any time. Antlerless deer firearms season opens Nov. 21 on private land and specified public lands. Hunters should consult the 2016-2017 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary for specific antlerless deer season regulations in each county and wildlife management area.
A hunter may harvest two deer per day, but only one antlered deer may be harvested per day. The first deer does not have to be electronically registered before harvesting the second deer in the same day. However, all deer legally harvested must be electronically registered and legally tagged before hunting during a subsequent day.
A concurrent bear firearms season without dogs will run concurrent with the buck firearms season in 33 counties, 17 of which are by permit only. Consult the 2016–2017 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary for specific counties.
According to Southwick Associates, hunting contributes $500 million each year to the state’s economy. 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.
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.
WVDNR predicts the buck harvest should be lower in 2016 than in 2015. There should be a strong yearling age class born in spring 2015 following the bumper oak crop of 2014.
However, the percentage of yearlings in the harvest has remained low due to hunters choosing to wait for larger, older bucks. Oak mast will have deer spread out over the landscape and less visible in fields and harder to harvest.
The posting of private lands has expanded to include the use of purple paint as a method of posting private land requiring written permission to hunt.
Hunters are required to wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange (about the size of a vest) as an outer garment for visibility and safety. Blaze orange camouflage patterns are legal as long as 400 square inches of blaze orange are displayed on the garment. A blaze orange hat is not required, but the hunter must have blaze orange visible from both the front and the back.
Hunting licenses may be purchased online at any time and printed out on a home computer printer. Go online to www.wvhunt.com, fill out the application, and purchase it over a secure server with a credit card.
Hunters who wish to donate deer meat or dollars to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program, which distributes deer meat through the Mountaineer Food Bank and the Facing Hunger Food Bank, should call 304-924-6211 or visit the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov to find a participating meat processor.