"I would be surprised if [the new season] accounts for 25 percent of the kill," he said.
"I do think that since it runs Thursday through Saturday, and since the Dec. 13 opening provides a 12-day gap between the end of the buck season and the reopening of the antlerless season, that hunters will turn out in better numbers than they did for past traditional seasons. That Thursday-through-Saturday time frame usually attracts more hunting pressure, so the harvest should be significant."
Weather could play a role in the season's outcome. DNR officials might have essentially created a second "opening day" by moving the hunt back a week, but at the same time they increased the chance that the always-fickle December weather might turn sour.
Johansen acknowledged that weather might affect the harvest, but didn't seem all that concerned about it.
"Bad weather might suppress the harvest some, but I don't think it will suppress it all that much," he said.
The final six days of antlerless-deer hunting, usually referred to as the family antlerless season, is actually two mini-seasons held back-to-back. The first two days, Dec. 26-27, are reserved for youth, handicapped and properly licensed senior hunters. The final four days, Dec. 28-31, are for anyone who still has an unfilled antlerless tag.
"The idea of these seasons is to allow people who have come home for the Christmas holiday to have a chance not only to enjoy the holiday, but also to get in a little hunting," Johansen said.
"So many of our folks have had to leave West Virginia for one reason or another, and they like to come back for the holiday season. Our hope is they'll also want to be out deer hunting during that time."