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October 24, 2007

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100 Best Public-Land Hunts: West Virginia

R.D. Bailey Lake Wildlife Management Area
: southern West Virginia
Size: 17,280 acres
ZIP: 24851

At West Virginia's Big Buck Display every September, a disproportionate number of entries hail from four rugged southern counties that have been closed to firearms hunting since the late 1970s: Mingo, Logan, McDowell and Wyoming. The Bailey WMA straddles Mingo and Wyoming counties, and its steep Appalachian ridges are dominated by oak-hickory hardwoods. With almost no agriculture in the area, deer depend on a good mast crop, supplemented by the legume-clover mix that is seeded on logging and gas-well roads.

Panther State Forest
: southern West Virginia
Size: 7,810 acres
ZIP: 24872

"It's not great deer habitat, like you'd see along the Ohio River or southern Illinois, that makes these deer big," says Keith Krantz, a wildlife biologist for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. "The main component of deer size in southern West Virginia is age." Much like R.D. Bailey, Panther's oak-hickory hardwoods are draped across extremely rugged terrain in McDowell County. Drops and rises between ridges range from 500 to 1,200 feet on average, and by all indications deer have taken advantage of the daunting climbs to live long and prosper.

Bluestone Wildlife Management Area
: southern West Virginia
Size: 18,019 acres
ZIP: 25951

To be legal here, bucks must boast a minimum 14-inch spread. The antler restrictions started last year and drastically reduced the firearms harvest of immature bucks from 60 per year to 16. The steepest terrain borders the Bluestone River, with the bulk of the acreage made up of rolling uplands and flat bottomlands. In addition to food plots, 400 acres of forest openings and old fields are cut back to maximize browse. A late frost and a down year for mast suggest that the new crop of mature bucks will be hitting these cutbacks hard before the rut.


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This article is interesting and the steepest terrain borders the Bluestone River that adds beauty.


Nathan Greathouse

My father was from Hundred West Virginia. Before he passed, he took me to the area he was from to look for property to hunt. However we were unsuccessful, and he has since past. I am from Ohio, but would love to find a great spot in southern West Virgina to go every year to hunt Whitetaile deer. I have a 5 year old son and one on the way, my son Hunter can't wait untill he can go hunting with dad. I can't wait to instill In him what my father instilled in me. Wy southern West Virginia u ask? I have heard that this area offers great whitetaile deer hunting. Specifically the the Allagany area.

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