CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Just 12 days into the annual urban hunt, bowhunters already have dragged 36 dead deer out of Charleston backyards.
That's as many as were killed in the entire 2008 season, said City Manager David Molgaard.
"Obviously, it's a moving target," Molgaard said Wednesday, with no trace of irony in his voice. "We're in the middle of the season."
Deer kills soared in Charleston after 2008, after City Attorney Paul Ellis negotiated more liberal bag limits with state wildlife officials. Now, hunters who register with the city can kill up to seven deer each year, as long as their first kill and five of the seven are female.
Since City Council members first allowed deer hunting in the city with an abbreviated two-week season in 2005, managing the hunt has become part of the yearly business cycle for Molgaard and his assistant, Caroline Keeney.
"I think it's fairly routine now," he said. "We start taking permit applications two to three weeks in advance, the first Monday after the state fair."
Keeney posts the rules on the city website (look under the pull-down Residents tab at cityofcharleston.org), and word travels by word of mouth, Molgaard said. "The DNR sets the season dates, so hunters know about it.
"Every year when I come in that [first] morning, there's a line of hunters out the door, many of them in camouflage. So they're anxious."
The fast start this year is typical of the past few years. Perhaps deer get skittish after the first few weeks or hunters lose interest after bagging a deer or two.
The "harvest" count, or deer kill, rose steadily through 2011, then fell off last year. "We had 83 harvested last year, 93 the year before," he said.