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Deer numbers

West Virginia’s overall deer kill increased by 1 percent in 2018. Gains in the buck, archery/crossbow and muzzleloader seasons were enough to offset a decline in the antlerless-deer harvest.

West Virginia’s 2018 deer-hunting season turned out to be a lot like 2017’s.

Hunters killed a total of 108,856 whitetails in the combined buck, antlerless, archery/crossbow, muzzleloader and primitive-weapons seasons, a 1 percent increase from the 108,160 taken the year before.

Most of the year-over-year gain came from the buck firearm, archery/crossbow and muzzleloader seasons.

The buck harvest grew 1 percent, from 44,127 to 44,599; the archery/crossbow kill rose 1.6 percent, from 26,206 to 27,506; and the muzzleloader harvest gained 15 percent, from 4,243 to 4,870.

The totals for the 2018 the archery/crossbow and muzzleloader seasons included deer killed during the Mountaineer Heritage Season, a new January season open only to hunters willing to use longbows, recurve bows, or traditional sidelock or flintlock muzzleloaders. Archers killed 23 deer during the four-day Heritage Season, and muzzleloader enthusiasts killed 636.

The archery/crossbow kill also included deer taken during the state’s urban bowhunting season, which this year was extended through the month of January.

Gains made during the buck, archery/crossbow and muzzleloader hunts were enough to offset a 2.5 percent decline in the antlerless-deer harvest. Antlerless kills as a whole have fallen steadily over the past six seasons, from 56,636 in 2013 to 32,751 in 2018. The declines have occurred despite the efforts of state wildlife officials to create additional antlerless-deer hunting opportunities.

The 10 counties with the highest overall kills were Preston, 4,952; Randolph, 3,654; Jackson, 3,393; Upshur, 3,296; Greenbrier, 3,075; Hampshire, 3,015; Monroe, 2,890; Kanawha, 2,887; Wood, 2,885; and Mason, 2,880.

The top 10 buck counties were Randolph, 1,685; Preston, 1,607; Hampshire, 1,471; Jackson, 1,380; Pendleton, 1,275; Grant, 1,219; Kanawha, 1,214; Hardy, 1,212; Mason, 1,206; and Monroe, 1,193.

The top 10 antlerless-deer counties were Preston, 1,799; Upshur, 1,289; Jackson, 1,183; Lewis, 1,160; Ritchie, 1,123; Monroe, 1,099; Roane, 1,073; Hampshire, 1,068; Wood, 1,057; and Mason, 922.

The top 10 archery/crossbow counties were Preston, 1,333; Kanawha, 1,045; Wyoming, 976; Randolph, 914; Raleigh, 807; Logan, 772; Fayette, 765; Wood, 709; Upshur, 683; and Jackson, 676.

The top 10 muzzleloader counties were Preston, 213; Randolph, 205; Nicholas, 198; Greenbrier, 178; Upshur, 169; Fayette, 165; Webster, 158; Jackson, 154; Braxton, 142; and Mason, 142.

Reach John McCoy at, 304-348-1231 or follow

@GazMailOutdoors on Twitter.

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