SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) — Deer hunters in West Virginia have had a good year. According to preliminary numbers released by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources on Thursday, hunters harvested 118,606 deer during the 2022–2023 seasons, which is a 12.7 percent increase over the 2021 harvest and 12.2 percent above the five-year average of 105,718.
“From the start of the archery and crossbow seasons in September to our Mountaineer Heritage season in January and everything in between, West Virginia has some of the most incredible deer hunting opportunities in the eastern United States,” said WVDNR Director Brett McMillion. “We’re excited to announce a good harvest this year and we’re so encouraged to see hunters and their families getting out more and more each year and enjoying so much success in the field.”
The increased deer harvest can be attributed to favorable weather and poorer mast conditions in 2022 and a slightly lower overall deer harvest during the 2021 seasons, which resulted in more deer being available last year.
A breakdown of the combined 2022 deer seasons reveals that hunters harvested 48,938 bucks during the traditional buck firearm season, 31,669 antlerless deer during all antlerless firearm hunting opportunities, 32,850 deer during urban and regular archery and crossbow seasons, 4,566 deer during the muzzleloader season and 583 deer during the Mountaineer Heritage season.
For a complete breakdown of harvests by county by season, click here.
Buck Firearms Season
During West Virginia’s two-week buck firearms season from Nov. 21 – Dec. 4, hunters harvested 48,938 bucks, an increase of 18 percent over the 2021 harvest. The largest increases were reported in West Virginia’s central and western areas, where buck harvests increased 39 and 36 percent, respectively. The top 10 buck harvest counties in 2022 were Greenbrier (1,856), Preston (1,760), Randolph (1,667), Ritchie (1,633), Jackson (1,539), Hampshire (1,453), Mason (1,417), Kanawha (1,352), Lewis (1,270) and Pocahontas (1,196).
Antlerless Deer Season
During the 2022 antlerless deer season, which includes the youth, class Q and class XS deer season, hunters harvested 31,669 deer, an increase of 14.7 percent compared to the 2021 harvest of 27,614 and 3.1 percent above the five-year average of 30,708.
“It is important to note that the antlerless harvest is the key component to any deer management strategy, as it controls the future deer population,” said Paul Johansen, chief of the WVDNR’s Wildlife Resources Section.
The top ten antlerless deer harvest counties in 2022 were Preston (1,523), Jackson (1,327), Lewis (1,255), Mason (1,250), Ritchie (1,246), Upshur (1,241), Wood (1,070), Hampshire (1,063), Roane (939) and Monroe (870).
Muzzleloader Deer Season
Hunters harvested 4,566 deer during the 2022 muzzleloader season, which is a 9.8 percent increase over the 2021 harvest of 4,159, but 3.2 percent below the five-year average of 4,718. The muzzleloader deer season harvest does not include the deer taken with side lock and flintlock muzzleloaders during the Mountaineer Heritage season. The top ten muzzleloader deer harvest counties were Preston (204), Randolph (193), Nicholas (188), Greenbrier (166), Upshur (155), Jackson (153), Lewis (139), Wood (139), Braxton (138) and Mason (133).
Archery and Crossbow Deer Season
Hunters harvested 32,850 deer with bows and crossbows in 2022, a 4.7 percent increase over the 2021 harvest of 31,362 and 13 percent above the five-year average of 29,067. The archery and crossbow harvest does not include the 37 deer taken with recurves and longbows during the Mountaineer Heritage season. The top ten archery deer harvest counties are Preston (1,557), Kanawha (1,166), Randolph (1,090), Wyoming (1,053), Raleigh (1,046), Wood (984) Upshur (962), Jackson (950), Fayette (945) and Mason (828).
For more information about deer hunting in West Virginia or to purchase a hunting license, visit WVdnr.gov.