Fair Chase Prohibits Hunting of Deer Fleeing Flood Waters

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    Life in Missouri is a bit on the wet side these days as the mighty Mississippi flexes her muscles thanks to tremendous amounts of rain swelling her beyond her banks. Although shows of her strength in the past have proven similar, dealing with flood waters is a problem for us all. Whether it is road closures that have you trapped and unable to move about freely from home and work or that your home is one of the 7,100 structures overcome by water, times are tough in Missouri thus far in 2016.

    Flood waters may be hampering the everyday lives of citizens, but they are far from being the only ones impacted. In fact, Missouri's whitetail deer population is also taking a beating. The steady influx of water has disrupted their regular winter routine, forcing them from areas where they would normally be present during this time of year. Rather than being able to seek winter refuge, deer are instead being forced out into the open where they are vulnerable to more than just the elements.

    In Missouri, hunting law requires that there be fair chase. What this means is essentially that any type of unfair advantage over wild game is not to be had by hunters, with Missouri hunting regulations directly stating that, "Wildlife, except waterfowl, may not be pursued or taken while trapped or surrounded by floodwaters or while fleeing from floodwaters or fire." Not only is this an ethical code, but it is law that is enforced by Missouri's Department of Conservation, violation of which can result in arrest. Most of us hunters do abide by such laws, but unfortunately the temptation to take an easy shot has been a great one for some. In fact, two hunters were arrested recently in Pemiscot County for giving into that temptation and the poaching of deer which were displaced by flood waters.

    Photo: Justin Moore/Facebook

    By now much of Missouri's whitetail deer season have drawn to a close, but it isn't quite over yet. There is still some time left in the archery season which continues until the 15th of January. During this time, the fair chase law still needs to be upheld with both hunters and the MDOC undertaking their own personal responsibility to enforce it. Anyone caught in violation of said law will of course be penalized for their actions.

    While it is our hope that the flood waters will quickly recede and Missouri will be on the road to recovery in short order, the fact of the matter is that this sort of comeback takes time. The water is on the move out of the area, but the aftermath of the flooding remains. Even if your favorite hunting spot is no longer underwater, it may remain inaccessible for some time. This means that not only will you not be returning in the near future, but deer may take their time doing so as well. Until that natural order is restored, remember the regulations regarding fair chase and allow deer to recover from nature's fury just as we ourselves must.

    How has recent flooding impacted your hunting season? Were you able to stay dry or did you have to throw in the towel early? Tell us about it in the comments!

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