Missouri Firearms Deer Season Opener Lower

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Cold, blustery weather may have cut into the opening-weekend harvest of Missouri's main firearms deer season, but hunters still posted a two-day total of nearly 100,000.

Hunters checked 98,386 deer Nov. 15 and 16. That is down 2,049, or about 2 percent from last year's number. The record for opening weekend of the November hunt was set in 2004, when hunters checked 133,136 deer.

High counties for the opening weekend were Macon with 1,992 deer checked, Benton with 1,967 and Callaway with 1,693. The top counties in 2007 were Callaway with 1,984, Benton with 1,962 and Texas with 1,817.

Resource Scientist Lonnie Hansen said he considers the opening-weekend harvest surprisingly good, considering the weather and a significant change in deer hunting regulations that went into effect this year.

"Opening morning felt colder than it really was, because the wind was so gusty," Hansen said. "Lots of areas had snow flurries. That might have reduced the amount of time hunters spent in the woods on Saturday."

Hansen noted that deer are more skittish in windy weather, because they can't see movement or hear as well as on calm days. This probably made hunting more difficult.

Deer-kill statistics from the first two days of the season seem to confirm that hunting was tougher than usual. Hunters killed 52,131 deer on the first day of the season this year, compared to 64,206 last year.

The weather was much more favorable for hunters on the second day of this year's season, with temperatures in the 50s and moderate winds. On that day, hunters checked 46,255 deer, compared to 36,229 last year.

Hansen said expansion of the area where hunters could only take antlered deer if they had at least four points on one side also played a role in the slight drop in deer harvest.

"The doe harvest was up on opening weekend compared to last year, and the buck harvest was down," said Hansen. "The fact that hunters in 36 new counties had to pass up shots at younger bucks could account for the entire difference in last year's opening weekend harvest and this year's."

The November Portion of Firearms Deer Season runs from Nov. 15 through 25. The opening weekend harvest typically accounts for approximately half of the total November portion harvest. The November firearms deer harvest usually accounts for approximately 70 percent of all deer taken by hunters throughout the various firearms and archery hunting seasons.

The Conservation Department recorded one firearms-related deer-hunting accident during the opening weekend. The nonfatal accident was classified as self-inflicted.