West Virginia’s 4 Archery-Only Deer Counties

west va 2019 donnyLast fall Donny Baisden scouted and hunted and shot this awesome unicorn buck in Logan West Virginia. The giant scored 182 5/8.

Bucks of this caliber have been coming out of not only Logan but also Wingo, McDowell and Wyoming counties for the last 40 years. It’s been one of bowhunting’s best-kept secrets!

In the early 1970s whitetails were scarce, almost nonexistent, in southern West Virginia.

“I spent a lot of time in the woods as a youngster, yet I can recall seeing only five deer,” said local hunter and writer John McCoy. “Three were on the property of a coal company that maintained a game preserve, and two moseyed out of the woods across from the school I attended.

“Seeing them was quite the thrill…. When the two deer showed up on the hillside across the road from my school, students and teachers rushed to the windows on that side of the building to get a better look.”

McCoy says three reasons stood out as to why deer were so scarce in the hills and hollows of extreme southern West Virginia 50 years ago: legislative interference with deer management, subsistence hunting, and a widespread contempt for game laws.

In 1972, West Virginia DNR officials decided to close McDowell County to firearm hunting for deer. Logan, Mingo and Wyoming counties followed in 1979.

The area’s whitetail population began to rebound. By the mid-1980s, the four counties were starting to earn a reputation among archers as a trophy-buck hotspot. By the 1990s, the regions trophy bucks had begun to attract nationwide attention.

The four counties remain bow-only to this day, and all of them offer awesome bowhunting. Logan, where Donny killed his giant last fall, leads the state in all-time Pope and Young entries.

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