December 02, 2014

Buck season a treasured tradition | Elkins Inter-Mountain

This time of year marks a long-standing and treasured tradition for the people of the Mountain State - buck firearms season. As the season continues, thousands of hunters of all ages - from every corner of our state and from beyond our borders - will gear up and trek into the West Virginia backwoods - all with the same anticipation of getting themselves the big buck.

There is no doubt that West Virginia is one of the best places in America for deer hunting. With exceptional natural surroundings and deer populations in all of our 55 counties, hunting for deer is part of our state's cultural heritage, and it has a significant place in our history. Hunting skills and traditions continue to be passed down from generation to generation as West Virginia parents and grandparents share the fervor of deer hunting with their young ones every year.

As an avid sportsman myself, I have so many fond memories of deer hunting throughout the years. From learning to hunt as a young boy in Farmington and growing up hunting near the Blackwater Canyons of Tucker County, to witnessing my grandson Joey get his first deer in Taylor County, the traditional buck season has brought so much joy to my entire family. To this day, we always try to get together during buck season and wake up early, bear the frigid temperatures, cross the rumbling rivers, enjoy each other's company and take part in the hunt.

Not only is deer hunting a great way to gather with family and friends, but it also has a tremendous impact on our tourism industry and our economy. This season, it is expected that 330,000 deer hunters will flock to West Virginia's forests. And while they are here, they will spend an estimated $230 million, much of it in our rural communities that greatly depend on the hunting season for revenue.

And buck season also is a great time to give back. I strongly encourage all West Virginia hunters remember Hunters Helping the Hungry this year. For 23 years, this critical organization has been distributing thousands of pounds of highly nutritious meat to families in need. When I was governor, I was proud to establish the annual Governors One Shot Deer Hunt at Stonewall Resort State Park, which has raised and donated $390,000 to the Hunters Helping the Hungry Program since 2007.

Hunters who wish to donate deer meat or dollars to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program should call 304-558-2771 or visit the DNR website at to find a participating meat processor.

And above all, I ask that our West Virginia hunters remember that the safety of the hunt is most important. Please make sure that all those in your party understand the West Virginia deer hunting rules and regulations have completed the necessary education courses, purchased a license and are supplied with the proper safety gear and equipment.

The tradition of buck season here in the Mountain State is one to be preserved for ages to come. I hope this year that all of our proud hunters will teach someone new this great recreational adventure that is so important to our state and our people. As this buck season continues, I wish all hunters success. Enjoy the outdoor experience!

By:  By Joe Manchin