Since male young of the year don't sport antlers and even some older males don't grow horns greater than three inches, the actual antlerless kill can be made up of roughly one-fifth to one-fourth males any given year, hence the "doe" season misnomer.
On the other hand, it's a rare occasion for female deer to grow a set of antlers. However, they in turn would be legal game during the "antlered" or likewise misnamed gun buck season.
It's for these reasons that virtually every state game agency uses the terms antlered and antlerless for their regulations. Though doe seasons were once the primary tools in deer population control, they've got some bolstering from some other sources. These other forms of antlerless deer harvest include a sizeable portion of the archery kill, the bulk of the muzzleloader take and the trick that may have finally helped managers in getting the overall kill numbers up to objective, the varying youth and Christmas antlerless gun hunts.
All tolled, these hunts have got the West Virginia deer herd within their best distribution and county population goals of all time.
What's more, the vast majority of the 44 open counties are available to resident hunters simply by purchasing the Class N or antlerless tag over the counter.
And remember the Class N (antlerless) tags don't have to be purchased prior to the season and they're no longer county specific. You may go to the county of your choice provided that it's open.
Though all the local counties are closed to the gun doe season, all or parts of 44 of the state's 55 counties will afford some action.
Carefully check the regulations pamphlet for specifics.
For example, the bag limits vary from one to four depending on the county. For another caution, several of the state public Wildlife Management Areas (WMA's) have special restrictions.
Certain public areas must be protected to prevent overharvest.
That moral there is that deer population problems invariably occur in urban or private lands where hunting is either not an option or disallowed by the landowner.
Larger landowners welcome hunters generally via hunting club lease to protect their holdings, particularly young timber regeneration areas from over-browsing by deer.
With some liberalization to this year's rule package and a growing herd from some recent lows, some 50,000 antlerless deer should be bagged. Just as for gun bucks, further records in this category would signify overpopulation as was the case for the 2002 year record antlerless kill of nigh 100,000. As always, follow the rules, be safe and enjoy.
The antlerless gun deer hunter is the most critical link to a healthy herd.