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Rural Missouri Magazine

Missouri's Firearms Deer Season

by Jason Jenkins

For 11 days each November, daily routines come to an abrupt halt across much of rural Missouri. From the crop fields in the north to the Ozarks hills in the south, high schools suspend classes, families take vacations and businesses amend their regular hours as thousands of Missourians take to the woods to partake in a fall tradition.

It’s firearms deer season, which is Nov. 14-24 this year.

Hunters hoping to fill freezers with venison or to be lucky enough to outwit a trophy buck like the one on our cover should find a good season ahead, says Lonnie Hansen, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s top deer biologist.

Hansen says the statewide whitetail population is about the same as last year. However, hunters can expect to see more mature bucks in counties with an antler-point restriction that only allows hunters to take an antlered deer with at least four points measuring 1 inch or larger on one side of his antlers. This “four-point” rule has been in effect in 29 counties since 2004, and a greater number of bucks taken in these counties are now closer to reaching their maximum antler size as compared to counties without the point restriction.

Conservation officials expanded the four-point rule to 65 counties in 2008. This year, all or parts of three more counties have been added and a small portion of one county has been removed. Hansen says hunters will start to see the effects of antler restrictions in counties added last year. He believes overall statewide deer harvest should be up from 2008, but adds that weather and the supply of acorns — a deer diet staple — will play a role.

Details of the four-point rule and other regulations are contained in the 2009 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available wherever hunting permits are sold or online at www.mdc.mo.gov/13924.

 

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