Deer hunters in West Virginia have had a good year. According to preliminary numbers released by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, hunters harvested 118,606 deer during the 2022–2023 seasons, which is a 12.7% increase over the 2021 harvest and 12.2% 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 Brett McMillion, WVDNR director. “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.”
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.
A total of 2,136 bucks were harvested in Pendleton County. Total harvests in neighboring counties were as follows: Grant – 2,102; Hardy – 2,440; Pocahontas – 1,929; and Randolph – 3,774.
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% over the 2021 harvest. The largest increases were reported in West Virginia’s central and western areas, where buck harvests increased 39 and 36%, 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).
In Pendleton County, hunters bagged 1,133 bucks with Grant, Hardy and Randolph harvesting 1,074, 1,166 and 1,646, respectively.
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% compared to the 2021 harvest of 27,614 and 3.1% above the five-year average of 30,708.
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).
Antlerless deer harvest in Pendleton County was 495, compared to 558 in Grant, 778 in Hardy, 314 in Pocahontas and 816 in Randolph.
“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.
Muzzleloader Deer Season
Hunters harvested 4,566 deer during the 2022 muzzleloader season, which is a 9.8% increase over the 2021 harvest of 4,159, but 3.2% 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).
During the muzzleloader season, Pendleton County hunters bagged 67 deer while the count was 64 in Grant, 72 in Hardy and 53 in Pocahontas.
Archery and Crossbow Deer Season
Hunters harvested 32,850 deer with bows and crossbows in 2022, a 4.7% increase over the 2021 harvest of 31,362 and 13% 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).
In Pendleton County, archery and crossbow hunters harvested 434 deer while hunters in Grant, Hardy and Pocahontas bagged 404, 416 and 367, respectively.
Mountaineer Heritage Season
During the Mountaineer Heritage Season, seven deer were harvested in Pendleton County. Grant County reported two harvests with Hardy and Pocahontas reporting eight each and Randolph 29.
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.
For more information about deer hunting in West Virginia, visit WVdnr.gov.