Deer (copy)

Missouri deer harvest is remaining steady.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is reporting hunters in Missouri harvested 80,525 deer during the opening weekend of the November portion of the fall firearms deer season.

Of the 80,525 deer harvested, 48,695 were antlered bucks, 6,867 were button bucks and 24,963 were does.

The statewide harvest during opening weekend on Nov. 14 and 15 was less than in 2019.

Last year, hunters checked 88,760 deer during the opening weekend of the 2019 November portion of firearms deer season.

According to the conservation department, poor weather during much of the weekend affected this year’s harvest total.

In many areas of the state, hunters dealt with rainy conditions on Saturday, particularly during the morning.

Even though rain moved out by Sunday, hunters were greeted by strong winds for most of the day.

Jason Isabelle, a deer biologist, said 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 many counties.

He said increased hunter participation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic also is likely to contribute to the deer harvest this fall. There was a significant increase in the number of hunters that pursued turkeys this past spring.

Isabelle said that the conservation department has increased antlerless deer harvest opportunities in many counties in the state over the last several years in response to increasing deer numbers.

The top harvest counties in the state during opening weekend were Howell with 1,499 deer harvested, Bollinger with 1,453 and Franklin with 1,446.

The current top harvest totals in Northwest Missouri are Nodaway County with 1,121 deer harvested, Andrew with 694 and Holt with 602.

The November portion of firearms deer season continues through Nov. 24. Archery season resumes Nov. 25 through Jan. 15.

The late youth portion runs Nov. 27 through Nov. 29. The antlerless portion of firearms deer season runs Dec. 4 to 6 followed by the alternative methods portion Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.

Find more information on deer hunting from the conservation department’s 2020 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where hunting permits are sold and online at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZXv.

Margaret Slayton can be reached at margaret.slayton@newspressnow.com.