Thirty years ago, drawing a West Virginia antlerless-deer hunting permit was a cause to celebrate. Nowadays, not so much.
Antlerless tags are available "over the counter" and in unlimited numbers in most of the state's 55 counties. Plop down $10 and go kill a doe. It's that simple.
So why, in certain areas of the state, do state wildlife officials still maintain the old application process? Simple; to make sure enough female deer get killed in areas where the whitetail population is too low to justify unlimited numbers of doe hunters.
Curtis Taylor, wildlife chief for the state Division of Natural Resources, said it's a numbers game.
"Over time, we've learned how many permits we need to issue to get a certain number of deer killed," he said. "We limit the number of permits in areas where we need to kill some antlerless deer, but not so many that we might exceed our harvest objective."
This year, DNR officials are offering limited permits for three state-run wildlife management areas, a small portion of the Monongahela National Forest, and all or parts of five counties.
The state-run lands include Calvin Price State Forest and the Elk River and Upper Mud River WMAs. The National Forest segment includes all the Monongahela National Forest that lies within the borders of Tucker County. The counties include all of Webster, northern Clay, eastern Fayette, eastern Nicholas, and private lands in Pocahontas.
The number of available permits is small.
For example, only 50 permits are available for the Upper Mud River WMA; 100 for Calvin Price State Forest; 200 for the Elk River WMA and 300 for the Monongahela Forest lands in Tucker County.