View Full Version : WV: Muzzleloader seasons: Predicting harvest difficult

Bob S
09-20-2009, 06:54 PM
ARTICLE (http://wvgazette.com/Outdoors/200909200329)

September 20, 2009

By John McCoy
Staff writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Predicting what might happen during West Virginia's muzzleloader season for deer isn't easy this year.

"Because we introduced a September component to what had historically been a December season, how things will turn out is a bit of an unknown," said Paul Johansen, assistant wildlife chief for the state Division of Natural Resources.

The "September component" Johansen mentioned was a six-day private-land, antlerless-only muzzleloader hunt that begins a little more than 24 hour after this newspaper starts landing on readers' doorsteps.

Johansen said DNR officials would have to "go and count the check tags" before they could gauge on its effect.

He speculated, however, that the season wouldn't suffer for lack of hunters.

"When seasons have distinct opening and closing dates, they tend to stand out," he said. "When those seasons come around, people are going to head for the woods. It's the nature of our state. People like to hunt, and they tend to take advantage of any opportunity to do that."

Johansen did predict that the September season would help the DNR toward its goal of reducing whitetail numbers in overpopulated counties.

"We targeted [34] counties where we needed additional does removed from the population," he said. "I think the [early] season will play an important role in our ability to manage the deer in those counties."

Asked if the early season might reduce hunters' desire to take part in the traditional December muzzleloader season, Johansen said no.

"I don't think it will have any significant impact on the December season," he said. "The factor most likely to affect the December season is weather. In mid-December, there's a high potential for inclement weather. If it's cold and miserable with snow blowing around, hunters will probably stay at home. Otherwise, they'll be out there."

Last year, hunters killed 8,378 deer during the December season.

This year, with twice as many days of hunting split between September and December, Johansen expects the harvest to increase.

"The big question will be how much," he said.