BLUEFIELD — Deer hunters may have a good season this year, according to an official with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Gary Foster, assistant chief in charge of game management for DNR, said several factors are involved in predicting a good firearm buck season, which started Monday and lasts through Dec. 2.

“The weather looks good for this week, so it should be a good year,” he said. “There’s lots of food in the woods for the deer and a lot of mass (body size).”

Because of the food available deer may not move around quite as much searching for food, he said, but overall the numbers should be good in Mercer, Monroe and Summers counties.

“We should have a good season,” he said. Hunters should also see plenty of deer this year due to the season opening close to the “rut,” or mating season.

Foster said firearm deer season does not take place in four Southern West Virginia counties: McDowell, Mingo, Logan and Wyoming.

“In those counties, the deer population is less,” he said, adding that not having a season can help better establish the numbers.

However, archery hunting season is open in those counties and crossbows can be used for those hunters with a Class Y (disability) permit.

The bag limit for bucks is two in most counties, he said, and anterless deer (young bucks and does) can be taken as well, from one to three depending on the hunting licenses purchased.

Foster said deer harvested must be reported and there are three ways to do it.

They can be checked in through a fishing and hunting license agent, online at wvhunt.com or call 1-844-wvcheck.

One change this year is that Sunday hunting is now legal in all 55 counties on private land only, with written permission from landowner.

In 2016, the traditional bucks-only firearm season harvest of antlered bucks was 46,071.

About 330,000 deer hunters will be in West Virginia’s woods this season, according to the DNR, and that means money for the state and communities.

Hunting contributes $500 million each year to the state’s economy, DNR’s website says. Deer hunters spend an estimated $230 million in West Virginia, much of it in the rural areas of the state that depend upon the deer seasons for a large portion of their annual income. Hunting is estimated to be responsible for 5,400 jobs and $35 million in sales taxes on goods and services spent in the state.

Hunters who wish to donate deer meat or money to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program, which distributes deer meat through the Mountaineer Food Bank and the Facing Hunger Food Bank, should call 304-924-6211 or visit the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov to find a participating meat processor.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com