Missouri's 10 day November firearms season (November 14th through the 24th) recently came to a close. During those 10 days, however, many hunters ventured forth into the woods in search of a deer to bring home. In a lot of cases, their efforts paid off with the result being a 14% increase in deer harvested this year during the month of November in comparison to last year during the same time period.
The 2014 November season yielded a total of 166,383 deer harvested. In 2015, however, that number rose substantially to 189,938, most of which were harvested during opening weekend. Although Texas County saw the most deer with a total of 4,544, Southeast Missouri didn't fair quite as well. In Bollinger County there was a total of 2,727 deer harvested followed by Perry County with a total of 2,224. Behind them was Cape Girardeau County with 2,165 total and Scott County with 556 deer. The grand total overall breaks down as follows:
92, 020 of deer harvested were antlered bucks.
21,256 of deer harvested were button bucks.
76,662 of deer harvested were does.
According to deer biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation Jason Sumners, we have good weather to thank for these numbers. Not only does good weather contribute to deer behavior and movement, but it also drives hunters into the wood as no one wants to let a nice day go to waste. As a result, many hunters now have meat in their fridges and freezers as well as on the table. Additionally, Share the Harvest, a program that gives venison to those in need, is benefitting as well. In 2014, a total of 213,443 pounds of deer meat was donated to Share the Harvest by 3,967 participating hunters. With greater success in the field this year, there is hope that those numbers could rise as well. Though Share the Harvest processors see deer during various parts of the season, it is gun season that yields the most donations. In fact, Jackson Frozen Food Locker had 74 deer donated in the opening weekend of firearms season alone.
Photo: Creek Bottom Whitetails
If you are still looking to get a deer for yourself or for Share the Harvest, there will be many more opportunities. We are currently in the midst of the firearms antlerless portion of the season which continues until December 6th. Beyond that, archery season extends through January 15th with firearms-alternative methods falling during December 19th through the 29th. Last but not least is a late firearms youth season on January 2nd and 3rd.
Although a healthy, thriving deer population with plentiful harvests is something to get excited about, it is not the only good news for Missouri cervids. It has been reported by the Missouri Department of Conservation that elk in the Ozark restoration area are slowly but surely growing in number. Some of these animals were recently outfitted with radio collars for monitoring so data can be collected to make decisions regarding management of the elk herd. There are currently around 120 elk in the area and more information can be found about these animals here. After being wiped out of Missouri back in 1865, it is good to see them making a gradual comeback thanks to re-introduction and careful management.
With there still being quite some time left for hunting whitetails, do keep in mind the importance of safety. There have been several incidents of accidental discharges resulting in wounds that were self-inflicted. No one wants to receive a phone call that such an accident has occurred, and no one wants to have to make that phone call, so take your time and be careful out there as you pursue the trophy of your dreams during the remaining portions of hunting season.
Were you one of the hunters who bagged a deer this firearms season? Was it an opening weekend score? Tell us about it in the comments.