White-tailed deer are the most sought after, big game species in West Virginia. Every year, more than 200,000 resident and non-resident hunters take to the woods to hunt whitetails. White-tailed deer are found in every county and in every habitat in the Mountain State. The opportunities to hunt whitetails in West Virginia are as diverse as the habitats in which they live. Hunters can pick the type of hunting experience they are looking for and cater their hunt to meet their needs.
Deer seasons in West Virginia span more than four months. The intensity of the hunt can range from urban, backyard hunts in some of our cities and homeowners associations to a true wilderness experience on one of our two national forests. Hunters can also explore one of 96 state-owned or leased wildlife management areas that encompass over 493,000 acres.
For hunters looking for an opportunity to harvest an older buck, West Virginia has seven wildlife management areas designated as “older-age deer management areas.” Bucks on these areas need to have a 14-inch outside antler spread to be legal for harvest. In addition, West Virginia has four counties that are designated “archery-only” for deer hunting, where large-antlered bucks are harvested each year.
For specific hunting season dates, bag limits other information, go the current Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.
The growth and expansion of the black bear population in West Virginia is one of the state’s greatest conservation success stories. In the early 1970s, black bears were limited to parts of ten of the eastern mountain counties and believed to number fewer than 500 individuals. Changes to hunting seasons based on field research coupled with maturing forests have allowed the black bear population to expand across the mountain state. Current population estimates put West Virginia’s bear population near 15,000 animals, and bears have been harvested in 53 of 55 counties in recent years.
West Virginia offers some of the most liberal bear hunting opportunities in the lower 48 states. Bear seasons begin in late August and continue until early January the following year. For specific hunting season dates, bag limits other information, go the current Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.
The growth of West Virginia’s wild turkey population is another conservation success story. Wild turkeys had become restricted to the most remote regions of the eastern mountain counties, following the wide-scale logging and subsequent fires that were common in the state during the first two decades of the 1900s. Early wild turkey research revealed wild-trapped birds were far superior to pen-raised stock for establishing wild turkey populations. The first trapped wild birds were released on Coopers Rock State Forest in 1950 and helped establish turkey population.
Trapping methods improved over time and became highly efficient with the use of mortar and rocket-propelled nets. Wildlife biologists and managers trapped and released hundreds of wild turkeys in suitable habitats around the state. By 1989, West Virginia had finished its trap-and-transfer program with turkeys successfully established in all 55 counties.
Turkey hunting opportunities are plentiful in the Mountain State. For specific hunting season dates, bag limits other information, go the current Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.
European wild boar were released in the Spruce-Laurel drainage of Boone County in the spring of 1971. The animals were originally released to provide the people of southern West Virginia with a big game species to hunt when deer, bear and turkey were scarce. Although it was believed that the animals would spread wildly like feral swine around the country, these animals never strayed far from their original release area.
A hunting season for wild boar occurs in Boone, Logan, Raleigh and Wyoming counties. Hunting is limited to West Virginia residents. For specific hunting season dates, bag limits other information, go the current Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.
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