dead deer

Missouri’s deer firearm season comes to a close with numbers down 21,802 throughout the state. Six hunting incidents occurred, with one of them being fatal.

Missouri’s deer firearm season ended Nov. 26 and finished with 21,802 fewer deer harvested than the 2018 season.

The total number of deer harvested was 178,936, with 91,420 antlered bucks, 17,237 button bucks and 70,279 does.

Last year’s hunters checked 200,738 deer during the 2018 November portion, with 103,582 antlered bucks, 20,040 button bucks and 77,116 does.

The top harvest counties were Franklin with 4,008 deer, Texas with 3,734 and Callaway with 3,369.

Parker Rice, Missouri Department of Conservation agent, said Northwest Missouri also was down by 2,933 harvested deer due to flooding, lunar cycle and warmer weather. The total for 2019 was 18,535, compared to 2018 at 21,468.

“Typically, when it’s warmer hunters will just sit in their stand and one thing that gets deer up and moving around is when hunters get up and move around, and that spooks an animal out in front of another hunter,” Rice said.

Rice said the rut was very well timed with the season this year, causing bucks to chase does more frequently in that time.

With the lunar cycle, Rice said there were a few bright nights giving deer more opportunities to move and eat at night and hide during the day.

“When they’re able to lay around during the day, then they only get up at night when they’re hungry rather than someone pushing them out,” Rice said.

In the Northwest region, counties bordering the river had struggles with hunting due to flooding from the spring.

“The flooding killed pretty much all of the vegetation in those areas and less crops planted. Typically that’s a tremendous food source for deer, so they just weren’t in those areas as much,” Rice said.

Throughout Missouri there were six hunting incidents, four self-inflicted and two others were shot by other hunters with one being fatal. Only one of the incidents occurred in Northwest Missouri and it was self-inflicted.

“If you’re following those universal firearm safety rules, those sadly could’ve been avoided and it’s something to live by if you’re going to handle a firearm,” Rice said.

Other than the incidents, Rice says there weren’t many issues other than typical regulation and tag violations.

Despite the lower numbers, Rice still believes it was a successful season for Missouri hunters and a large portion of deer still was harvested.

Rice said there still are chances to harvest deer, with the next season in Missouri being archery season from Nov. 27 through Jan. 15, 2020. The late youth portion of firearms deer season runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 1. The antlerless portion of firearms season runs Dec. 6 to the 8 and alternative methods portion is Dec. 28 through Jan. 7.

Rice encourages anyone with questions related to hunting to call the Missouri Department of Conservation at (816) 271-3100.

Bailey Ketcham can be reached