By JOHN McCOY
West Virginia's deer hunters didn't break any records in 2018, but they certainly managed to kill their share of trophy bucks.
Eighty-five bucks qualified for inclusion in the West Virginia Big Buck Certification Program, run by the state Division of Natural Resources. The program recognizes firearm kills whose antlers measure at least 140 inches and archery kills whose antlers measure at least 125.
Fourteen firearm kills earned Big Buck Certificates. The rest were killed by archers using conventional bows or crossbows. No muzzleloader kills qualified in 2018.
The highest-scoring deer taken overall, by quite a margin, was a big non-typical buck killed on Nov. 20 in Kanawha County by Glenn Pauley. The buck's antlers totaled 1964/8 inches on the Boone and Crockett Club's measuring system.
The biggest gun-killed typical, which measured 1702/8, was killed Dec. 1 in Fayette County by Jeffrey Bragg.
Among conventional archery kills, Donny Baisden's 1825/8-inch Logan County buck took top honors among non-typicals. The top-ranked typical, taken by David Miller in Boone County, measured 1735/8, just three-quarters of an inch from cracking the state's all-time Top 5 in that category.
Russell Mitchum topped the crossbow division with a Wyoming County typical that measured 1476/8. There were no non-typical crossbow entries.
In all, 21 of the state's 55 counties yielded bucks that qualified for Big Buck Certificates. Logan County topped the list with 18, followed by McDowell, 17; Wyoming, nine; Boone, seven; and Fayette, five.
Mingo, Webster and Kanawha counties yielded four trophies apiece; Raleigh, Jackson, Lincoln, Cabell and Nicholas had two each; and Clay, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Monroe, Ritchie, Upshur, Ohio and Putnam had one each.
The four counties closed to firearm hunting - Logan, McDowell, Wyoming and Mingo - produced 48 of the 71 archery or crossbow kills (67 percent). Seventy-three of the 85 statewide kills came from counties south of Interstate 64 and west of Interstate 77.