JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reports that deer numbers are increasing in much of the state and that trend should contribute to an increase in the number of deer harvested this fall. MDC also reminds hunters and others of available landowner permits, sampling and testing for chronic wasting disease, Share The Harvest, and more.
“Deer populations in much of southern Missouri have been increasing slowly over time and deer numbers in much of central and northern Missouri have rebounded from the severe hemorrhagic disease outbreak in 2012 that caused a significant decline in deer numbers in many counties,” said MDC Cervid Program Supervisor Jason Isabelle.
Isabelle added that deer harvests in the state have also been on an increasing trend since 2013 and MDC expects this trend to continue this year.
“Increased hunter participation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is also likely to contribute to a higher deer harvest this fall,” Isabelle said. “We saw a significant increase in the number of hunters that pursued turkeys this past spring. If we see a similar increase in hunter participation this fall, it could lead to one of our highest deer harvests in many years.”
He added that MDC has steadily increased antlerless deer harvest opportunities in many counties over the last several years in response to increasing deer numbers.
Archery deer hunting opened Sept. 15 and runs through Nov. 13. Archery season then reopens Nov. 25 through Jan. 15, 2021. The November portion of firearms deer season starts Nov. 14 and runs through Nov. 24. The alternative methods portion runs Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, 2021. A firearms antlerless portion runs Dec. 4 – 6. Youth firearms portions run Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 and again Nov. 27 -29.
Get more information on deer hunting in Missouri online at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/deer and from MDC’s 2020 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations & Information booklet, available where permits are sold and online at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/fall-deer-and-turkey-hunting-regulations-and-information.
SHARE THE HARVEST AND MEAT PROCESSORS
MDC encourages hunters who will have their deer professionally processed to check with meat processors about their availability to process deer this fall. Some meat processors around the state are reporting higher-than-normal business and may not be accepting deer for processing or will have significant delays in processing deer. Hunters wanting to donate to Share the Harvest are also encouraged to check with their local meat processors as some are not participating in the program this year.
Get more information on Share the Harvest online at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/deer/deer-share-harvest.
MDC also has several virtual classes on deer and game processing and how to deer hunt. Get more information on MDC virtual programs online at mdc.mo.gov/events/virtual.
MDC offers free and discounted landowner permits for deer hunting to qualifying resident and non-resident Missouri landowners. Missouri residents must own at least 20 contiguous acres of land to receive no-cost resident landowner permits. Nonresidents must own at least 75 contiguous acres of land to receive reduced-cost nonresident landowner permits. To be eligible for landowner permits, the property owner and others wanting to hunt the property using a landowner permit must first complete an MDC Landowner Permit Application.
Learn more about landowner permits at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/permits/qualifications-landowner-permits.
MDC has changed its mandatory sampling requirements for chronic wasting disease (CWD) to voluntary sampling in 30 counties during the opening weekend of this year’s November firearms portion of deer season. The change was prompted by public-health concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The change will impact hunters who harvest deer during the opening weekend of the November portion of the firearms deer season (Nov. 14 and 15) in any of the 30 MDC CWD Management Zone counties: Adair, Barry, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Hickory, Howell, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Mercer, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington.
While CWD sampling is no longer required Nov. 14 and 15 for the 30 counties in its CWD Management Zone, MDC’s 71 CWD sampling stations located throughout the zone will remain open. MDC encourages hunters to have their deer sampled for CWD on the day of harvest.
MDC will continue to offer statewide voluntary CWD sampling and testing of harvested deer during the entire deer season at select locations throughout the state, including participating MDC offices, cooperating taxidermists, and new freezer head-drop locations. Sampling and test results are free.
MDC reminds deer hunters to follow carcass movement restrictions that are in effect to slow the spread of CWD. The new regulations prohibit movement of whole deer carcasses and heads out of a CWD Management Zone county unless the deer or head is being delivered to a licensed meat processor or taxidermist within 48 hours.
Get more information on CWD, sampling station locations, and related regulations online at mdc.mo.gov/CWD
SHOOTING FERAL HOGS WHILE DEER HUNTING
Shooting and other methods of taking feral hogs is generally prohibited on conservation areas and other lands owned, leased, or managed by MDC. During deer and turkey seasons, the opportunistic take of feral hogs by hunters with unfilled deer or turkey hunting permits is allowed on MDC areas. Hunting feral hogs is allowed on private property.
Report feral hog sightings to MDC at 573-522-4115, extension 3296, or online at nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/report-wildlife-sightings/feral-hog-sighting-and-damage-report.