SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia archery hunters are having a successful year so far in 2015, showing a 53 percent increase in their harvest of white-tailed deer compared to this time last year. The Division of Natural Resources reports that, as of Oct. 26, bow and crossbow hunters have taken 11,798 deer compared to 7,729 deer taken up to the same date in 2014, a 53 percent increase. The archery season began Sept. 26 and runs through Dec. 31, 2015.
The total for all seasons up to this date, including archery, urban hunts, youth/Class Q/XS and the early antlerless deer gun season (Oct. 22-24), is 17,776 deer. That compares to 15,216 taken at this time in 2014, a 17 percent increase. For the early antlerless gun season alone, including the one-day youth season, the 2015 harvest 5,373 compared to 6,974 by this date last year, a 23 percent decrease.
“The count is available this early in the season thanks to DNR’s new electronic licensing and game checking system that went into effect this year,” according to Chris Ryan, supervisor of game management services for DNR. “Previously, game tags had to be collected from check-in stations across the state at the end of the hunting season and counted by hand, which took a long time. With electronic licensing and game checking, that information is available almost instantly.”
Beginning this year, hunters are required to get a permanent DNR identification number which allows them to check in their game from their phones at 1-844-WVCHECK, their computers at wvhunt.com, or at one of more than 170 official license agent/checking stations across the state.
“Hunters are showing us that they have easily adopted the new system and like using it to check in their game,” Ryan said. “It’s fast and easy for them, and it makes important information available to DNR on a much timelier basis. Hunters are reminded to get their DNR ID numbers before they go hunting so they can use the new electronic check system right away. This includes lifetime license holders, resident youth under the age of 15 who don’t need a license, and resident landowners who normally do not have to purchase a license to hunt on their own property.”
Hunters can call or visit a license agent or DNR district office or log on to wvhunt.com to obtain their DNR ID number, which is valid for the hunter’s lifetime. That number will be printed on the top of the license for those who buy a license each year. Lifetime license holders may call a DNR district office or the Elkins or South Charleston offices between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to obtain their DNR ID number, which has already been assigned.
“Although hunters no longer have to bring the animal in with them to be checked, what doesn’t change is that hunters and trappers still have to follow the time, field tagging and transportation restrictions as listed in the regulations,” according to Ryan.
Information about the electronic game checking system and about how to obtain an official DNR ID number can be found in the 2015-2016 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary available at and DNR office, license agent or by visiting www.wvhunt.com.
• Also, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) urges motorists to be more cautious while driving this time of year, as deer/vehicular collisions increase during late October and November.
“West Virginia is blessed with an abundance of wildlife, including a healthy white-tailed deer population,” said Gary Foster, supervisor of Game Management for the DNR Wildlife Resources Section. “Although deer are found throughout the state, their population densities vary considerably from one region to another.
West Virginia’s rural nature and mountainous terrain also contribute to collisions between deer and vehicles, as the highest quality deer habitat is often associated with the valleys and bottomlands. These same areas support the majority of the state’s public roads.”
Deer/vehicular collisions increase each fall for a couple of reasons.
“October and November coincide with the ‘rut’ or peak of the breeding season for deer,” Foster said. “During this period, deer movements and activities increase significantly, making deer more vulnerable to collisions with vehicles. On average, 40 percent of deer collisions in West Virginia occur during the three-month period from October through December.
“In addition, many hunters take to the woods each fall, stirring up deer and increasing the chances of deer/vehicle collisions,” Foster said.
The DNR suggests motorists be extra careful during this time of the year and recommends the following driving tips:
• Be aware of your surroundings and what may be in your peripheral vision. If you see deer in the vicinity, reduce your speed and honk your horn using short blasts.
• Drive with your headlights on and use high beams when possible.
• Reduce your speed, especially during early morning and late evening hours when deer movements typically increase.
• Do not swerve and leave your lane to avoid a deer collision. If you encounter a deer, press your brakes firmly and attempt to stop.
• Drive defensively.