Hunting in West Virginia is a time-honored tradition in which the majority of families have at least one member who participates on a regular basis.
Traditional buck firearms season is underway West Virginia with an estimated 330,000 deer hunters expected to participate in the two-week gun season.
Many of those hunters are coming from out-of-state and are not only looking for bucks, but are spending big “bucks” in terms of cash while on their hunting adventure.
Three members of the Poblador family came from Virginia for three days last week to hunt in southern West Virginia.
“This the second time my son and I to hunt in southern West Virginia,” said Mario Poblador. “We think this area is a very beautiful place that offers great hunting and hospitality.”
The Pobladors stayed at a the Little Coal River Campground site in a cabin in Boone County, ate at local restaurants, like the Park Avenue Restaurant and bought some hunting equipment at local retailers, as well as buying gasoline, snacks and other items from local retailers and stores.
Gun season is a part of who we are in the mountains of southern West Virginia. But it’s more than just a yearly tradition for families across our region. It’s also a critical economic engine for small businesses across the area.
The state Division of Natural Resources estimates that hunters spend a combined $230 million, and much of that revenue comes from rural areas like southern West Virginia where small businesses depend on the annual income from deer season.
With this pursuit millions of dollars are directed toward the state’s economy, creating more than 5,000 jobs, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR).
“West Virginia’s hunting-related expenditures for food, lodging, transportation, and equipment brought in nearly $230 million to the state’s economy,” says Hoy Murphy, Public Information Officer for the state DNR. “The economic benefit of hunting in West Virginia is especially valuable because of the amount of revenue generated in our most rural areas.”
Poblador’s son, Matthew, a U.S. Marine war veteran who served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanastan, bagged a doe while hunting on a friend’s family farm in Lincoln County on the first day of the family’s hunting trip to southern West Virginia.
“It was a great opening day hunt for me,” the younger Poblador said. “My best friend also killed a doe and our family friend from this area got a button buck on the second day. It was an awesome hunting trip for all of us this year.”
The group has purchased the antlerless stamp available from the WVDNR in the area they were hunting.
The DNR says good reproduction and a mild winter last year have resulted in an ample supply of 18-month animals, and mast conditions that are favorable. Hunters are limited to two bucks during gun season and three does per year, whether during archery or firearms season.
Misty Adkins, of Alkol, bagged a 7-point buck at the same farm around 10:45 a.m. on the first day of the season.
“I used a 30-30 rifle,” she said. “It wasn’t my first deer, but it is always an awesome feeling when you get one.”
When we think of the largest single-day sporting event West Virginians take part in, many say it is the day West Virginia and Marshall play football. Others say it is the day when a NASCAR race is going on.
“The truth is that the opening day of the buck gun deer season sees more West Virginians taking an active part than any other sporting event that takes place in West Virginia,” Murphy said. “On the opening day we see nearly 300,000 orange clad hunters actively in the woods and fields hunting. When you throw in the opening of rabbit, raccoon, bear gun season and the opening of the trapping season, November becomes the busiest month of the year for the hunting and trapping community.”
In fact, it’s not unusual for many in the region to take the week off from work or even school to head out to the woods — particularly after the big Thanksgiving dinner. For many families living in our area, the start of firearms season is a proud family tradition that has carried down through several generations. It is a chance for fathers and sons — and mothers and daughters — to head out to the woods together.
Last year hunters in the Mountain State bagged 60,157 bucks, according to the Associated Press. That was a 38 percent increase over the previous year. A large harvest is once again expected during this year’s two-week gun season.
This year’s figures have not released by the WVDNR, which usually waits until the season ends to report the final deer harvest numbers.
West Virginia’s firearm season for buck deer is already more than half over, but hunters still have the remainder of this week in which to hunt for the big bucks.