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November firearms deer harvest tops 214,000 (w/graphic)

Fewer deer harvested this year means more for hunters next year.

JEFFERSON CITY-Hunters did not shoot a record number of deer during the
November portion of Missouri’s Firearms Deer Season, but they set a
record for the fewest firearms-related hunting accidents.

Hunters checked 214,494 deer during the November Portion of Firearms
Deer Season Nov. 10 through 20. That is down 20,915, or 9 percent from
last year’s figure of 235,409, which was a record. This year’s
total
is the fourth-largest for Missouri’s November firearms deer hunt.

The Missouri Department of Conservation recorded three firearms-related
hunting accidents during the November Portion of Firearms Deer Season.
None was fatal. That is the fewest accidents reported since the
Conservation Department began keeping records in 1963.

The previous record for fewest firearms-related hunting accidents was
in 2004, when only four were recorded. The most was in 1986, when 25
people were injured and one died in firearms-related deer hunting
accidents. Last year’s tally was 10 nonfatal accidents and two
fatalities.

Lonnie Hansen is the Conservation Department’s deer-management
expert. Before the opening of the November Portion of Firearms Deer
Season, he noted that an April freeze had made acorns relatively scarce
this year. That, he said, could contribute to a large - perhaps even
record - deer harvest.

When the harvest on opening weekend came in nearly 24,000 under the
2006 figure, he noted that weather had been unseasonably warm and often
windy. Warm weather makes deer - especially does - less inclined to
move
around and less visible to hunters. Wind further complicates hunting by
making the sounds of deer that are moving around harder to hear.

Another factor that Hansen pointed out is the abundance of deer-hunting
opportunities Missourians enjoy today. Thirty years ago, deer season
lasted just seven days. Then what we now know as the November Portion
of
Firearms Deer Season was expanded to nine days, spanning two weekends.
Today it runs for 11 days.

At the same time, the Conservation Department has added four new
segments to the season to provide added hunting opportunity and keep a
lid on deer numbers. Hunters in some counties around St. Louis, Kansas
City, Springfield and Columbia get to hunt antlerless deer for four
days
in October. Hunters under age 16 get two days of their own around the
end of October or the first of November. Those who hunt with
muzzle-loading firearms get 10 days to hunt right after Thanksgiving,
and most of the state’s counties are open to antlerless deer hunting
for another nine days in December.

With so many days afield to enjoy, it is no wonder that some hunters
choose to delay shooting a deer, hoping for cooler weather - perhaps
even a dusting of snow - to make the experience more enjoyable.

Nothing works quite as well as hindsight to determine the overall
effect of this welter of offsetting factors.

“It comes down to this,” said Hansen. “Our deer herd is healthy
and fairly stable throughout most of the state. With our deer
population
at a plateau, we are going to see some years when the harvest is up and
some when it’s down, but every year’s harvest is gong to be around
a
certain number.”

Judging from recent years’ harvest totals, the “certain number”
for the November firearms deer harvest is a little more than 200,000.
Figures for the last eight years have been:
--2000, 201,165
--2001, 205,867
--2002, 217,435
--2003, 207,516
--2004, 222,329
--2005, 205,460
--2006, 235,409
--2007, 214,475

With more than two weeks worth of firearms deer hunting ahead, Missouri
hunters have plenty of time to boost the total statewide harvest. In
each of the past three years, hunters checked between 45,000 and 53,000
deer during the Muzzleloader and Antlerless portions of Firearms Deer
Season.

Top counties for the November Portion of Firearms Deer Season were
Texas, with 4,043 deer checked, Callaway, with 4,041 and Oregon with
3,994.

-Jim Low-

www.missouriconservation.org/news
 

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in my area, mo has a very healthy deer herd. in fact the best in the last 20 yrs, as far as that goes, prob the best since before the civil war. so i cant complain, but does anyone Else wish they would push it back one week to take advantage of the cooler weather?the rut would still be on i think. what is the opinion of other MO hunters?
 

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Actually the last few years, the muzzle loader season has been good for me, no crowds and better/more deer movement. In our area deer populations tend to be very localized, we would have more, we have good habitat but poaching is rampant and virtually unchecked.

Bob
 
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