Missouri's November Deer Harvest Tops Last Year’s Figure

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Hunters checked 190,089 deer during Missouri’s 11-day November firearms deer hunt, slightly surpassing last year’s figure despite a slow start on opening weekend.

Extremely windy weather, combined with reduced deer populations in some areas, dropped the opening-weekend harvest 10,000 below the 2010 figure. Hunters persevered, however, and more than made up lost ground in the following nine days of the November hunt. In the end, they harvested 1,884 more than last year, a 1-percent increase.

Top harvest counties were Howell with 3,483 deer checked, Macon with 3,393 and Texas with 3,284. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recorded six firearms-related deer-hunting accidents during the November hunt, down from nine last year.

MDC Resource Scientist Jason Sumners said changes to hunting regulations over the past 20 years are responsible for producing more large-antlered deer.

Sumners noted that in 2003, antlered deer made up 37 percent of the November firearms deer harvest. Last year, 40 percent of the harvest consisted of antlered deer. This year, the figure was 43 percent. This narrowing of the gap between doe and buck harvest began with implementation of the four-point rule for antlered deer in 2004.

Missouri’s four-point rule, now in effect in all or parts of 69 counties, allows hunters to shoot an antlered buck only if it has at least four points measuring 1 inch or longer on at least one side. The antler-point restriction allows more bucks to grow trophy antlers while providing effective control of deer numbers.

Sumners said that before implementation of antler-point restrictions, 1.5-year-old bucks made up 40 to 50 percent of the total buck harvest. Today in counties with the antler-point restriction, 1.5-year-old bucks make up 10 to 15 percent of the total buck harvest. After more than four years under antler-point restrictions, 30 to 40 percent of the bucks harvested are 3.5 years and older. That means hunters are seeing and harvesting more larger-antlered adult bucks.

“It’s no wonder the four-point rule has become very popular with hunters,” he said.

MDC has been working for the better part of a decade to balance hunting opportunities against crop damage, deer-vehicle accidents and other problems associated with overabundant deer. The agency’s current challenge is to maintain a healthy, stable deer herd while working with landowners and hunters to fine-tune harvest at the local level.

MDC Director Bob Ziehmer hailed this year’s deer harvest numbers as good news for all Missourians.

“A robust firearms deer harvest is proof of a healthy deer herd that benefits all Missourians, whether they hunt or not,” said Ziehmer. “Resident deer hunters and a significant number of hunters from out of state spend approximately $700 million on their sport. That spending generates more than $1 billion in business activity. In all, deer hunting supports 11,000 Missouri jobs. In these economic times, that’s a big boost to the state’s economy.”


Ca_Vermonster's picture

Very nice to see the

Very nice to see the successful rifle season that Missouri just had.  I see that they have also accomplished their goal of raising the age class of deer harvested.  This goes along with my anti-AR argument for a state like Vermont, but pro-AR for the southern states. 

In a state like Missouri, with great deer populations, you can see that they can restrict which deer they shoot, while still setting records for deer harvests.  However, take a state like Vermont, and you see the success rate drop by 25-30%.  Can't live with that many unhappy hunters in my eyes.

Congrats to Missouri hunters.  looks like there were plenty of happy people down there this fall!

Retired2hunt's picture

  Aha - Yes!  I knew when the


Aha - Yes!  I knew when the first article came out that Missouri would come through with another record deer harvest.  Missouri just had too many positives going on that they couldn't have an overall decrease in the harvest.  I think I said I wanted to wait until the final numbers came out as I felt the opening weekend was slow due to other factors.  We have read in at least 3 if not more articles that persistence pays off.  I think it is a definite reason why many achieve filling their tags.  Congrats to the Missouri deer hunters!


hunter25's picture

It's amazing to see how may

It's amazing to see how may states just keep topping previous years numbers. Just like Monatana earlier things started slow but picked up quickly and finished strong. Congratulations to everyone that was able to get out there stick with it and make it happen.