More States Making Hunters ‘Earn That Buck’

Fred R. from West Virginia writes to ask about “Earn-a-buck.” “In 2012, for the first time, there will be an “Earn-a-buck” regulation in some areas of West Virginia. I hear that in states that have tried this management approach, the hunters don’t like it. Is getting more does killed all this regulation is about?”

Dr. Dave Samuel

Fred: I’m not sure what the motivation was to implement this in parts of West Virginia, but to answer your question . . . “yes,” states use this to get more does harvested. From my perspective, there are counties in West Virginia where we just have too many does. Earn-a-buck definitely ups the doe harvest because hunters must kill a doe before shooting a buck. But hunters, in general, do not like it because they are limited in killing a buck. First they have to kill a doe, then you can shoot a buck. 

Now West Virginia has tempered their regulation in that in counties where implemented, you can’t shoot a second buck until you have killed a doe. So, you can kill a buck, but in order to get your second buck (and two bucks are legal in WV), you must kill a doe. 

Earn-a-buck regulations are found in parts of Nebraska, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, and now West Virginia.   

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of‘s content at Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.

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