"Some of the really avid bowhunters in the Northern Panhandle, for example, are getting really tuned in to the idea of managing their hunting properties for quality bucks. To get the older-age, bigger-antlered bucks they want, they're harvesting more antlerless deer."
While Johansen expects the longer season to produce a higher overall kill, he doesn't anticipate any appreciable difference in the number of trophy bucks archers take.
"Most of the really big trophy bucks get killed during the rut," he explained. "No doubt there will be some killed between the start of the season and the start of the rut, but most will be killed in early to mid-November, during the weeks immediately surrounding the peak of the rut."
Johansen acknowledged, however, that hunters willing to hunt during those extra couple of weeks will enjoy better odds at taking a trophy. "Hey, the more time you spend in a tree stand, the better chance you have of having big boy come along," he said.
DNR officials are only now completing the agency's annual Mast Report and Hunting Outlook booklet, but Johansen said the availability of acorns and other "hard mast" items will have a profound effect on how many deer archers manage to kill.
"Generally speaking, in years when hard mast is abundant, the archery kill is usually lower than in years when mast is scarce," he said. "Deer that have plenty to eat tend not to move around very much, and when they don't move, they become less vulnerable to hunters."
Preliminary reports indicate that acorns will be abundant in some parts of the state, but scarce in others.
"Naturally, hunters who have done their [pre-season] scouting will know where acorns are abundant, and will set up their tree stands close to those areas," Johansen said.
Four West Virginia counties - Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming - are closed to firearm hunting for deer, and are indisputably the state's top producers of bow-killed trophy bucks. Close behind, though, are Raleigh, Fayette, Mercer, Boone, Kanawha and Lincoln, all geographically close to the Fab Four.
Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1232 or johnmc...@wvgazette.com.