JEFFERSON CITY– Hunters age 6 through 15 checked 16,392 deer during the first weekend of Missouri’s youth deer hunt Nov. 5 and 6, a 13-percent increase from last year’s figure.
Top harvest counties for the early portion of the youth hunt were Osage with 369 deer checked, Franklin with 331 and Howell with 316.
Resource Scientist Jason Sumners with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) said the main reason for the harvest increase was the fact that the early youth season occurred a week later than usual.
“In response to hunter requests, we pushed the youth hunt back to avoid conflicts with Halloween,” said Sumners. “That meant kids were hunting closer to the peak of deer rutting activity. Your chances of shooting a deer are better when bucks are on the move, chasing does.”
Missouri held its first youth hunt in 2001. The season was two days long, and the harvest that year was 6,277. For the first seven years, the youth hunt consisted of a Saturday and Sunday before the main firearms deer season, and the harvest averaged around 10,000 deer.
Starting with the 2008-2009 hunting season, MDC doubled the length of the youth season by adding a two-day late portion in January. For the past three seasons, the early youth harvest has averaged a little more than 13,000. This year’s early youth harvest is larger than the total youth harvest for any previous year.
MDC recorded one firearms-related hunting incident during the early youth hunt. It did not involve a youth hunter, however. The father of a youth hunter fired at what he thought was a wounded deer and injured the youth hunter’s uncle.
The Conservation Department makes it easy to create a lasting reminder of a young hunter’s first deer. An official First Deer Certificate, complete with congratulations and signature by Conservation Department Director Bob Ziehmer, is available at http://bit.ly/9bmk38. To create a certificate suitable for framing, you need only fill in the hunter’s information, print the form and add a photo.
Next on Missouri’s deer-hunting calendar is the November portion of firearms deer season Nov. 12 through 22. This portion normally accounts for approximately 80 percent of the state’s firearms deer harvest.
Three other portions follow the November hunt. The antlerless portion runs from Nov. 23 through Dec. 4. The muzzleloader portion is Dec. 17 through 27. The final portion of the firearms season is the late youth hunt Jan. 7 and 8.
Missouri also has an archery deer season that opens Sept. 15 and closes Jan. 15, with an 11-day hiatus during the November firearms deer season.
Hunters spend more than 5.7 million days pursuing deer in Missouri each year. The approximately $700 million they spend on their sport annually generates $1.1 billion in business activity and supports 11,000 jobs.