Rob Stone of Inwood, W.Va., said he was standing on the ground Monday morning, 30-30 rifle at the ready, in the middle of a herd of about 30 deer. He wanted a trophy buck to put on his wall.
“It was crazy; they were all around me,” Stone said. “I made noise, even lit a cigarette and they didn’t run away. About eight were bucks. I picked out the one I thought was the prettiest and shot it.”
Stone, 39, was hunting on private land on the first day of West Virginia’s two-week rifle season for deer.
He had just dropped off his buck at The Deer Stop Here LLC in Falling Waters, an official West Virginia Division of Natural Resources check-in station.
It’s one-stop shopping for deer hunters.
Owner Larry Cook checks in deer, processes the meat and, being a licensed taxidermist, mounts them.
Cook had checked in more than 100 deer by midafternoon Monday.
“I have 200 tags, but I’m going to need more by Wednesday,” he said.
Check-ins ran from below average to above average at several stations in Berkeley and Jefferson counties.
Earlier in the day, Jeremy Tabler of Tabler Deer Processing at Whitings Neck in Berkeley County said about 10 deer had been brought in.
“It’s pretty good for a first day. Some years are better than others,” he said.
Connie Reynolds at the H-Mart in downtown Shepherdstown, W.Va., said more than a dozen deer had been checked in there by late morning.
Hoy Murphy, DNR spokesman in Charleston, W.Va., predicted a better deer harvest statewide than last year because of poor hunting weather and conditions in 2010.
As a result, he said, more deer carried over, so this year’s harvest should be higher and bucks will be bigger.
Hunters killed 43,461 deer in West Virginia last year, Murphy said. Included were 661 in Berkeley County, 482 in Jefferson County and 457 in Morgan County.
Sonny Kidwiler, 66, of Shepherdstown, waited for five hours on his deer stand for his favorite prey — a large buck. He shot an eight-point.
Hunting buddies Steve Edwards of Shepherdstown and Joe Brand of Charles Town, W.Va., said they “saw a lot of does and heard a lot of shots,” Edwards said. They didn’t shoot anything.
“Three or four bucks marched in front of us, but we were near a property line and there were houses in the line of fire. It wasn’t worth the risk,” Edwards said.
They said the weather at daybreak Monday was overcast and foggy.
“It was generally good, but it would have been better if it was colder,” Edwards said.
Ever the optimists, they said hoped for better luck at sunset.
Two spike bucks were turned into checking stations Monday, shot by a couple of youths who bagged their first deer.
Dylan McCormick, 10, of Shepherdstown, a fifth-grader at Faith Christian Academy, was hunting with his dad, Dave McCormick, and his uncle, Jeff McCormick, on their 65-acre family farm outside Shepherdstown.
Dylan was in a tree stand with his dad when the buck came into view.
“I saw him and I got him with one shot,” the boy said.
His uncle got an eight-point, but his father went home empty.
Jewelia Tabler, Jeremy Tabler’s 9-year-old daughter, earned her rite of passage Monday by bringing down her first buck.