Thursday marks the opening day of the archery season for deer and turkey hunting in Missouri, and with it hunters are expected to see stable populations.
There are other changes to hunting regulations designed to help maintain the stability of the population for future generations of hunters.
According to information from the Missouri Department of Conservation’s media specialist, Bill Graham, statewide, 520,000 deer hunters annually participate in the sport, which generates $1 billion each year for Missouri’s economy.
“Deer harvest and population has been relatively stable in Pettis County the past few years,” Barb Keller, deer biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said. “That will likely be the case again this year, as the county averages 20 to 25 deer per square-mile in the county.
“The county does have an antler-point restriction — bucks harvested must have four points on one side,” she added. “With this restriction hunters stand a chance of harvesting older, larger bucks in Pettis County.”
Information on the Departments website states, “in order to protect young bucks and increase the number of mature bucks, the harvest limit of antlered deer has been reduced from three to two during the combined archery and firearms deer hunting season.
“Only one antlered deer may be taken during the firearms deer hunting season, and only one antlered deer may be taken prior to the November portion of the firearms deer season.”
Other changes include the addition of crossbows as a legal archery method during the archery deer and turkey seasons that open Thursday. Crossbows are also permitted during the fall firearms turkey season that runs Oct. 1 to 31.
“During the 2015-16 hunting season, hunters harvested 2,029 deer in Pettis County,” Graham said. “Of those, 1,715 were harvested with firearms and the remainder were by archery methods.”
One change for this year that hunters in Pettis County will not have to contend with is the new requirement dealing with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
During opening weekend of the fall firearms portion, hunters who kill a deer in the CWD Management Zone are required to take the deer to a sampling station to be tested.
Pettis County does not fall in the CWD zone but the adjoining counties of Cooper and Morgan Counties do.
The disease is fatal to deer.
“Attracting deer using grain, salt or minerals unnaturally concentrates deer and increases the risk of transmitting diseases such as CWD from one deer to another or from the environment to deer,” the Department of Conservation Fall Deer and Turkey guide states. “Grain, salt products, minerals and other consumable products used to attract deer are prohibited year-round within the CWD Management zone.”
Even though Pettis County is not a required county for CWD testing, hunters may have their deer sampled if they choose. More information on CWD sampling can be found at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.
“Biologists will know more about the region’s deer numbers after the season,” Keller said. “Good habitat is key to good deer numbers and deer populations can vary greatly from one neighborhood to another within a county, depending on the quality of food and sheltering cover deer need to survive and to raise deer.”
For more information on all of the state’s hunting seasons and regulations, contact the Missouri Department of Conservation at 573-751-4115 or visit website mdc.mo.gov.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.