ELKINS, W.Va. — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources estimated close to 250,000 hunters will be in the woods Monday for the opening day of the ever popular buck hunting season.

The Monday before Thanksgiving has long been the opening date of the most anticipated hunting season of the year.

State game officials believe there are plenty of deer for hunters to expect success for the 2017 season, but the number of deer killed will very much depend on the weather according to Assistant Chief of Game Management Gary Foster.

“The one factor with buck season is the weather impact on the first couple of days of the season,” Foster explained. “That’s when over half the harvest comes in on those first couple of days, so weather could have a really major influence on the harvest.”

The weather doesn’t typically impact the deer behavior, but it has a great influence on hunter behavior and uncomfortable conditions may drive hunters out of the woods early resulting in less success.

This year’s mast survey across West Virginia indicated a strong year for the state’s acorn, the preferred food of the white tail deer. Typically a strong mast year doesn’t translate to as much opportunity for hunters since deer will be more apt to stay in wooded areas and less likely to move into open fields.

“Typically when you have good mast conditions, it can impact the harvest,” Foster added. “Deer aren’t moving as much because of the abundance of food.”

Again in a large number of counties while hunters will be looking for a buck there will be a concurrent antlerless hunting season in progress as well on private land. Hunters there, with the proper permit, could also kill a doe. The doe hunting is aimed at reducing the number of deer in areas where their numbers have grown beyond what wildlife officials believe is adequate for the landscape.

“That system has been in place for a lot of years and overall , it works very well,” said Foster. “We tweak the counties each year looking at harvest numbers and other information.”

Since the implementation of the on-line game checking system, hunters in West Virginia no longer have to seek out a game checking station around the state. The information about their deer can be registered either via phone or online. The one draw back to the new system has been the lack of opportunity for the DNR biologists to collect data on those harvested bucks. Therefore, on Monday and Tuesday, all deer killed in Upshur and Mason County are required to take their deer to a biological collection point in those two counties enabling the DNR to continue to monitor the health of the deer herd in those regions of the state. Biological collection will also be underway in Hampshire County where the work to detect and contain chronic wasting disease continues.

Here are the places hunters need to bring their deer in those counties killed November 20 and 21:

Hampshire County: (CWD sampling will also be conducted)
• Slanesville General Store – Route 29, Slanesville
• L & M Market – U.S. Rt. 50, Augusta
• DNR District II Office – 1 Depot Street, Romney
• Country Store – Route 28, Springfield
• Capon Valley Market – U.S. Rt. 50, Capon Bridge

Mason County
• New Haven Marathon – 5th Street and Lewis, New Haven
• Leon General Store – Arbuckle-Tribble Road, Leon
• Apple Grove Market – 2699 Huntington Road, Apple Grove
• Sandhill Food Mart – 4107 Sandhill Road, Point Pleasant
• Camp Conley Mart – 3369 Ohio River Road, Point Pleasant

Upshur County
• Queens Community Building – (Junction of Jackson Fork and Tallmansville Roads), Queens
• WV State Wildlife Center – Route 20, French Creek
• Hodgesville Volunteer Fire Department – Route 20, Hodgesville
• Mountaineer Mart – Old Weston Road (off of U.S. Rt. 33), Buckhannon
• Tractor Supply – Route 20, Tennerton
• Dean’s Variety Mart (beside 7-11 Store) – Junction of Mt. Nebo Road and U.S. Rt. 33