Two other factors could, and probably will, affect this season's outcome. One is food, which is relatively scarce.
"We got terribly spotty acorn production this year," Johansen explained. "In fact, I'd call it spotty to nonexistent. So deer won't be found in oak flats and on oak ridges. They'll be feeding where they can find food.
"Most likely, that means they'll be browsing on soft mast or grazing in open fields or around edges of fields. Deer will be more visible, and therefore more vulnerable to the gun."
The other factor is mating activity.
"Hunters should keep in mind that the rut will still be going on," Johansen said. "Breeding behavior can dominate other types of behavior."
Bucks that are still seeking to mate during the firearm season will likely show less caution than usual, and that could also play into hunters' hands.
Even with several factors working in favor of sportsmen, Johansen believes this year's buck kill will be similar to last year's, when hunters bagged 56,173 animals.
"I think we could safely expect a harvest in the 55,000-60,000 range," he said.
Buck season at a glance
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.