The West Virginia bear harvest will likely be down from last year; Deer Harvest Probably About Same, MNR Predicts | VM News


SOUTH CHARLESTON, Va. (WV News) – Total amount of nuts, small seeds and fruit – mast – up about 61% from 2020 and 8% above long-term average state, which will likely result in a lower bear harvest than last year and a similar white-tailed deer harvest.

The bear harvest in West Virginia will likely be down despite a record number of hunting opportunities, while the deer harvest will be about the same as in 2020, experts predict.

This is according to the findings of the Wildlife Section of the West Virginia Natural Resources Division “2021 West Virginia Mast and Hunting Outlook”. The paper was written by Christopher Ryan (Supervisor of WVDNR Game Management Services), Linda Ordway, Colin Carpenter, Holly Morris and Eric Richmond.

The West Virginia DNR publishes its annual handy tool for hunters.

The mast for all oak species is down, while the mast for beech, walnut, black cherry and hickory “are considerably above last year and also above average to long term, “the authors wrote.

In addition, “the production of flexible masts was very good in 2021, with apples, black cherries, hawthorns and crabapples having very good harvests in 2021,” the authors wrote.

The state has implemented a more widespread bear hunt this year than in history, with several early and subsequent opportunities, as well as 51 counties open during gun season.

“Despite liberal seasons for 2021, we expect a weaker bear harvest,” the authors wrote. “The success rates of archery hunting are highly dependent on the condition of the masts. The crops decrease the years of mast abundance and increase the years of the shortage of masts. The archery harvest is expected to be lower in 2021. Although the red oak group (red oak, black and scarlet) did not produce well in 2021, black cherry, beech and hickory performed very well.

Additionally, white oak production has increased significantly from 2020 levels. Bears will feed on black cherries early in the season before moving to the available hard mast, “the authors wrote. The gun bears will likely be less than the 2020 crop. The pole spread across the landscape will mean that the bears will also be spread out. However, the December harvest is expected to be larger in 2021 than in 2020 as the mast will still be available for drizzle to find. “

Meanwhile, “the total whitetail deer harvest in 2021 is expected to be similar to that of 2020. The increase in mast abundance across the state will mean that deer will not need to travel as far to foraging. This will be true for the first part of the season, but deer movements should increase as the season progresses and food supplies decrease, ”the authors wrote.

“We anticipate a similar archery harvest in 2021. Archers would be wise to find the pockets of white oak trees that produced in 2021 for an early season success. Beech also produced exceptionally well in 2021 and deer will compete with bears, turkeys, squirrels and many other birds and mammals for highly preferred nuts. Look for apple trees as a good place to harvest a deer with archery equipment, “wrote authors.

“The harvest of buck gun season is expected to be similar to the harvest in 2020. Two of the key factors that will determine the buck gun harvest will be weather and attendance. Many states have documented an increase in attendance. hunting in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic However, with many other activities recurring in 2021, it remains to be seen whether we will have large numbers of hunters in the woods. Even though the woods are teeming with hunters in 2021, survey data shows that our hunters are much more selective about the bucks they harvest now than they were in the past. Bad weather the first 3 days of the season can also cause significant decrease in the harvest of males, ”wrote the authors.

The authors also predict: A lower squirrel harvest; increased harvest of wild turkey; lower harvests of wild boar and raccoons; higher rabbit populations; and a higher number of contacts with ruffed grouse.

Since 1971, the Wildlife Section of WVDNR, in conjunction with volunteers from many other organizations, has conducted a fall pole survey to determine the abundance of poles produced by 18 species of trees and shrubs.

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