Perhaps it was growing up in the Mountain State watching the Mountaineer mascot fire his gun in the air after a touchdown, or maybe it was the simple fact that the first deer I ever took with a firearm was with a muzzleloader, I am not sure exactly.
What I am sure of is the fact that I enjoy the week of deer hunting with a muzzleloader the most of any deer season. When I was a child, deer hunting was almost entirely bowhunting the early season. I was introduced to firearm hunting later in my adolescence by a hunting mentor who took us along during muzzleloading season, and the timing was such that I was hooked immediately on the hunt.
Cold mornings, generally snow on the ground, fewer hunters in the woods, and plenty of deer to pursue all added to the thrill. And with a firearm that went off with a big boom of smoke, even better to open a young man’s mind to the mysteries of gun hunting for whitetails after all those years of hunting them with a stick and string.
Still, to this day, I enjoy the time of year the most. I look forward to it every year — breaking out the traditional equipment and walking the hills allows my present to be connected to my past.
If you are interested in a late-season deer-hunting opportunity, perhaps this season is just right for you. Here are some details on the season from our WVDNR.
West Virginia’s muzzleloader deer hunting season opened Dec. 13 and hunters who want to harvest an additional deer are reminded to buy their RM or RRM stamp before the season starts.
“The muzzleloader season offers a chance to pursue whitetails with a firearm when fewer hunters are hitting the woods compared to the traditional buck firearms season,” said Holly Morris, a WVDNR assistant district wildlife biologist. “Also, there is an increased likelihood of hunting in the snow during muzzleloader season.”
During the muzzleloader season, hunters may harvest one deer on their base license and one additional deer if they purchase a Class RM or Class RRM stamp before the season starts. RM is the stamp designated for residents and RRM is the stamp designated for nonresidents. Non-resident hunters also need to purchase a muzzleloader deer hunting stamp.
Muzzleloader deer season rules and regulations
During the season, antlered deer are legal in all counties that have a buck firearms season, and deer of either sex are legal in all counties or parts thereof that have an antlerless season. Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties are closed to all firearms deer hunting, including the muzzleloader deer season.
There are 10 counties or parts thereof that require hunters to take an antlerless deer within the county, which may be taken during any regular deer season open to antlerless deer hunting, before killing a second antlered deer within the county.
No more than three antlered bucks can be harvested during the regular deer seasons and the Mountaineer Heritage Season combined. All hunters afield during this week are required to wear 400 square inches of blaze orange.
Hunters cannot substitute a bow or crossbow for a muzzleloader; however, concurrent archery hunting is legal during the muzzleloader season and is subject to all archery deer-hunting regulations. Concurrent waterfowl hunting is also legal.
For more information about the muzzleloader deer season and other hunting opportunities in West Virginia, hunters should read the 2021-22 West Virginia Hunting Regulations Summary, available at WVdnr.gov. Muzzleloader deer season is open from Dec. 13-19.