SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — West Virginia hunters will be allowed to harvest fewer antlered deer per season starting in 2024.

According to West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) Assistant Chief of Game Management Steve Rauch, the bag limit will be reduced from three antlered deer per season to two. The new limit will go into effect starting September of 2024 when buck archery season begins.

The DNR asked for public comments on the bag limit and other possible changes starting in February, and the change was officially approved by the Natural Resources Commission this month.

Chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Resource section Paul Johanson told 12 News that the decision to make the change was made after careful deliberation. He said that some sportsmen believe that reducing the annual bag limit for bucks will allow the deer to mature and will lead to larger and older bucks down the line.

On the spring questionnaire, West Virginia sportsmen and women’s opinions were split on whether the bag limit should be changed, but Johanson said that ultimately, the Natural Resources Commission chose to reduce the bag limit to two. He also said that although the commission will strongly enforce the new limit, at this point, data from the DNR does not prove that reducing the limit to two will lead to larger buck populations.

Although the National Resources Commission has the authority to change the bag limits every year, Johanson said that the two-buck bag limit will likely remain in place until the end of 2025.

The dates for the 2023-24 hunting seasons that were included on the questionnaire have also been approved, according to Rauch, and seasons for 2024 and 2025 will be voted on in April.

The current West Virginia DNR Hunting and Trapping Guidelines officially expire in June 2023.