BUCKHANNON — Data collected at six stations operated by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources in Upshur County will help assess the health of the local deer herds and develop future deer management plans.
Monday marked opening day of the Mountain State’s traditional buck firearms season, which runs through Dec. 2.
WVDNR staff spent the first two days of the hunting season collecting the biological information.
At Tractor Supply in Tennerton, a steady stream of hunters stopped by with their deer kills Monday. The stations were biological data stations only and hunters were still required to check-in their game online, via phone or at a check-in station.
Wildlife manager Mark Clarke said biological information was being collected in Upshur, Mason and Hampshire counties, which have long-term data sets.
“We are gathering information so we can compare back then and get an idea of the deer herd health past to present,” he said. “With every deer, we are aging it and we are checking to see if there are any symptoms of epizootic hemorrhagic disease.
We haven’t found any and we don’t expect to either.”
Wildlife biologist Cliff Brown explained that EHD is an infectious disease transmitted by insects.
“When deer get bitten, one of the reactions is they have an interruption in the growth of their hooves,” he said. “So one deformity on a deer’s hoof may not mean anything, but if three are affected, that means that deer has been exposed to the EHD.”
In September, the WVDNR issued a press release that said deer with EHD were found in eight counties: Boone, Brooke, Hancock, Lincoln, Marshall, Ohio, Tucker and Wayne.
The disease can cause a local reduction in deer population — up to 20 percent — but is not contagious to humans.
However, the biological data the staff collected also included growth, composition, spread and more.
“People are thinking this is a check station about disease, but it’s not,” Brown said. “This is for long-term biological data. The district will include this in their deer plan. They write deer plans for five years, and that helps us to decide what the seasons will be as we move forward in the future.”
As of Monday afternoon, the deer brought in to the Tractor Supply parking lot were fitting a certain demographic.
“We are seeing older deer,” Brown said. “Some of them are average for Upshur County. Older for bucks usually means bigger.”
Kayla Hurst brought in an older buck. When measured the eight-point buck appeared to be
2 ½ years old, according to wildlife officials.
Hurst said she has been hunting for five years and was happy with this year’s buck she killed in the Hinkleville area about two hours into her morning.
Nearby, Chester Cutright I and grandson Chester Cutright III were waiting for wildlife officials to look at the button buck killed by Chester Cutright III. The pair started their hunting about 8 a.m. with the shot coming at noon.
Also assisting at the data collection station Monday were Danielle Elliott, DNR coordination unit, and Sam Cowell, wildlife manager.
Buck firearms seasons is open in all counties except Logan, Mingo, McDowell and Wyoming and runs through Dec. 2.
Visit www.wvhunt.com for additional information on hunting regulations and licensing information. The site is also the WVDNR’s electronic licensing and game check system. Hunters may also call 1-844-WVCHECK.