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Urban archery hunt tops four tons of venison donated to local agencies

MORGANTOWN — Four tons.

That’s how much venison has been donated to local food banks in the nine-year history of Morgantown’s annual urban archery hunt.

The 2019-’20 edition wrapped up Jan. 31.

In total, about 65 hunters harvested 81 deer from approved hunting locations across the city. Of those, the venison of 39 deer — 1,110 pounds — was donated to feeding programs operated by Trinity Episcopal Church, Caritas House and Pantry Plus More.

That donation brings the total to 8,335 pounds since the hunt began in 2011.

Rick Bebout oversaw the program from its inception. He handed the reins off to Paul Crumrine in 2019 and now focuses on overseeing donations.

“I think the thing we were most pleased with this year was topping the 8,000-pound mark of donated venison,” Bebout said. “That’s always a really important part of what we do, providing that meat to local agencies that can put it to immediate use.”

Crumrine said he was pleased to report the hunt was one again incident free, just as it has been each year.

“It was another great year — zero safety incidents,” Crumrine said, explaining that the group will have a year-end gathering and start planning next year’s hunt.

“We’ll start that process come March or April, whenever the weather starts to change,” he said.

Bebout explained that the number of deer taken has been consistent during the past several hunts, meaning the program has been effective in bringing the population under control.

An infrared flyover from 2011 showed parts of the city were covered in as many as 50 deer per square mile, presenting a danger to drivers and creating competition for food that drove deer into yards to eat whatever plants were available.

A flyover conducted in 2016 showed the size of deer groups was down from 156 to 98 and individual deer numbers down from 654 to 264.

“This year was really reflective of the last three or four years in terms of harvest numbers. We’ve gotten the population down, and we’ve kept it there,” Bebout said. “I think we’ve got it completely dialed in. It’s just hard to believe that this will be our 10th year, starting in September.”