Last year, blackpowder enthusiasts bagged 7,873 whitetails. Johansen expects this year's harvest to come in a few hundred higher.
"The simple act of moving the season up a week won't ... affect the harvest, but the weather - if it's better - certainly should," he said. "This is a relatively minor change, but I think it might have significant benefits for those who enjoy muzzleloader hunting."
Other than the opening and closing dates, the new muzzleloader season will follow the same rules it always has.
All but four of the state's counties will be open to hunting. In the four closed counties - Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming - deer are off-limits to any kind of firearm hunting, muzzleloaders included.
In counties with open antlerless-deer seasons, muzzleloader hunters can kill antlerless deer as well as antlered bucks. In counties with closed antlerless seasons, only bucks are legal.
Any muzzleloading rifle of .38 caliber or larger can be used. Telescopic sights are allowed, too.
As in all firearm seasons for deer, hunters must wear at least 400 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing.
Contact John McCoy at 304-348-1231 or johnmc...@wvgazette.com.