Year in and year out, Upshur performs well despite a shortage of public land. Only a small sliver of the 2,985-acre Stonecoal WMA falls within the county's borders.
And yet, there sits Raleigh County at sixth on our best-bets list. Raleigh's archers killed 812 deer last year, the state's fifth-best total, and the county tied for 13th in deer per square mile with an average of 1.48.
There are no state-owned or leased public hunting areas within the county, but most of the lands of the New River Gorge National River are open to hunting. Hunters should check with the National Park Service in Hinton, Glen Jean or Fayetteville to learn where hunting is prohibited within the park.
Wyoming's presence on the list could mean one of two things - that the county's whitetail population is larger than most people might suspect, or that the county attracts so many archers that its bow kill is artificially high.
Whatever the cause, last year Wyoming ranked ninth in bow harvest with 772 deer; and 12th in productivity with an average of 1.56 whitetails per square mile.
What's more, the county produced eight bucks that qualified for the state's Big Buck Contest, the highest total on this year's best-bets roster.
Bowhunters killed 883 whitetails there last year, fourth most in the state. Nicholas' average of 1.43 deer per square mile ranked 18th.
For public-land hunters, Nicholas is a playground. Within the county's borders can be found half of the 11,507-acre Gauley River National Recreation Area, all of the 5,974-acre Summersville Lake WMA, and a sizable chunk of the Monongahela National Forest's 35,864-acre Cranberry WMA.
Most of the county consists of small private woodlots and farms, but the 7,061-acre Amherst-Plymouth WMA near Bancroft provides a substantial destination for public-land hunters.
Two good-sized wildlife management areas provide steady, dependable public hunting opportunities - the 2,587 Frozen Camp WMA east of Ripley, and the 1,696-acre Woodrum Lake WMA near Kentuck.
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.