News and Events

Youth Deer Harvest Holds Steady

Hunters age 6 through 15 checked 13,263 deer during the early youth portion of Missouri’s firearms deer season Oct. 30 and 31. That is the third-largest number in the season’s 10-year history and only slightly less than the record.

The first youth season was in 2001, when young hunters checked 6,277 deer. The most ever taken during the two-day hunt was 13,466 in 2004. The harvest during last year’s early youth hunt was 13,328.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, this year’s top counties were Osage with 304 deer checked, Callaway with 277 and Franklin with 266.

The Conservation Department makes it easy to create a lasting reminder of young hunters’ first deer. An official First Deer Certificate, complete with congratulations and signature by Conservation Department Director Robert Ziehmer, is available at http://bit.ly/9bmk38. To create a certificate suitable for framing, you need only fill in the hunter’s information, print the form and add a photo.

From 2001 through 2007, the youth portion of firearms deer season ran for two days in early November or late October. In 2008, the Conservation Department added two days of youth hunting in January. The harvest during the late youth hunt has been small compared to the early portion, averaging a little more than 1,700.

The Conservation Department recorded no firearms-related deer hunting incidents during this year’s early youth season.

The Late Firearms Youth Portion is Jan. 1 and 2.

Still Time to Share the Harvest

Hunters still have plenty of time to share the bounty of Missouri’s white-tailed deer herd through Share the Harvest (STH). The 18-year-old program passed a milestone in 2009, channeling its 2-millionth pound of lean, high-protein venison to needy families through dozens of locally organized STH chapters. STH has achieved this remarkable feat by making it easy and inexpensive to donate venison. Participating meat processors are listed in the 2010 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet. Donating venison is as easy as taking a deer to any of these processors.

Many hunters have enough venison for their own needs by this time in Missouri’s 42-day firearms deer season. With no reason to hunt more, they reluctantly put away their deer rifles until next year, not considering the possibility of extending their own hunting enjoyment while helping feed the hungry.

The antlerless deer season runs through Dec. 5. Muzzleloader season is Dec. 18 through 28. Young hunters get the last shot at deer Jan. 1 and 2. Consider taking these opportunities to spend time outdoors with family and friends and help those less fortunate than you! More information is available at www.MissouriConservation.org/node/2544, or by calling 573- 634-2322, or e-mailing mofed@socket.net.

Urban Deer Harvest

During the urban portion of firearms deer season Oct. 8 through 11, hunters checked 587 deer.

Comparing deer-harvest statistics and weather records during past urban deer hunts reveals a strong correlation between weather and harvest. For instance, daily high temperatures averaged 83.7 degrees this year. Hunters shot more than twice as many deer in 2009, when temperatures were 30 degrees cooler. The largest urban-season harvests during the four-day urban hunt have occurred in the years with the lowest average temperatures.

This correlation extends to the November firearms deer season, too. The connection is related to behavior of both deer and hunters. Deer are less active in warm weather. Moving around in warm weather is uncomfortable for deer in October, when they already have grown dense coats to insulate them from winter cold. Hunters know deer are less active and are less inclined to hunt in warm weather because deer are harder to find. Furthermore, preventing meat spoilage is more difficult in warm weather.

Top harvest counties during this year’s urban hunt were Boone with 97 deer checked, St. Charles with 91 and Greene with 86. This year’s urban deer harvest consisted of 79 percent does. The goal of the urban hunt is to provide additional hunting opportunities and to manage deer numbers in urban areas.

Fewer Deer-Vehicle Accidents

Statistics from the Missouri Highway Patrol show that the frequency of deer-vehicle accidents peaked in 1996. That same year, the Conservation Department instituted the first antlerless-only deer season. The goal was to remove enough does from the population to hold deer numbers steady in some areas.

Over the following 14 years, the Conservation Department gradually increased the length of the antlerless season and the availability of antlerless tags. Today, hunters can shoot as many does as they want in all or part of 74 counties. The Conservation Department also has expanded the number of firearms deer hunting days from 22 to 42, instituted an urban deer hunt for antlerless deer and placed counties under antler-point restrictions to encourage hunters to shoot more does. As a result, the number of does harvested each year increased from 78,000 in 1996 to 119,000 last year. That is remarkable when you consider that the number of miles driven on Missouri highways increased from 25,525 million to 47,707 annually from 1982 to 2008, an 87-percent increase.

Scotland County Men Sentenced

Four Scotland County men were sentenced in October on charges related to multiple federal wildlife violations, including illegally shooting a bald eagle and illegally trapping and shooting birds that are protected under the Migratory Bird Act. Agents discovered poles with steel leg hold traps on land owned by Douglas Byrn. Court documents allege that Douglas Byrn trapped and Logan Byrn shot a great horned owl in Scotland County. Douglas Byrn also trapped a yellow shafted flicker.

Douglas Lecen Byrn, 45, Memphis, Mo., was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine on two violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Jared Fuller, 19, of Memphis, Mo., was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine on one violation of the Bald Eagle Act. Logan Douglas Byrn, 19, of Downing, was sentenced to one year of probation and a $250 fine on one violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and one count of aiding and abetting the violation of the Bald Eagle Act.

James Fuller, 49, of Memphis, Mo., was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine on one charge of influencing a witness.

Each of the four men also is to perform 40 hours of community service and is forbidden to hunt or possess firearms during probation. The defendants appeared before United States District Judge Catherine D. Perry, in St. Louis. The Conservation Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the case.

The Department of Conservation works with you to sustain fish and wildlife. If you see a possible poaching violation in progress, immediately call your conservation agent, sheriff or the toll-free hotline number. Help put game thieves out of business. Dial toll-free 1-800-1111.

Natural Resources Conference

“The Human Element: People, Politics and Conservation” is the theme for the 2011 Missouri Natural Resources Conference (MNRC) Feb. 2 through 4 at Lake of the Ozarks’ Tan-Tar-A Resort.

The conference program focuses on helping resource management professionals and citizen conservationists deal with one of the most challenging aspects of their jobs. Registration forms and further information are available at www.mnrc.org.

This year’s program will feature nationally known speakers, as well as dozens of nuts and bolts sessions to provide concrete management strategies for resource managers.

Natural resource professional societies organize the MNRC each year. The event routinely attracts 1,000 attendees and provides a forum for established and aspiring natural-resource professionals to exchange information and ideas and enhance cooperation among government agencies and citizen conservation organizations.

The conference also features an opening night social, research project poster displays, a student job fair and exhibits by related vendors and service providers and professional and conservation groups.

Donate Asian Carp to the Needy

What do you do with Asian carp that jump into your boat or the ones you take bowfishing? Why not donate them to a food pantry or to neighbors on a fixed income? Silver carp have white, mild-flavored meat that some compare to Chilean sea bass or crab meat. The invasive fish are rapidly joining mainstream cuisine, even turning up at restaurants in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Replace the name “silver carp” with “silver fin,” and you have a recipe for success. Want to eat the flying fish yourself? Check out www.iisgcp.org/asiancarp/recipes _chapman.pdf for recipes.

Fall Firearms Turkey Harvest

Hunters checked 5,928 wild turkeys during Missouri’s fall firearms hunting season Oct. 1 through 31. It was the second-smallest harvest in the fall season’s 33-year history.

Top harvest counties were Greene with 199 turkeys checked, Franklin with 157 and Webster with 154.

Resource Scientist Jason Isabelle, who oversees the Missouri Department of Conservation’s turkey management program, said the harvest was about what he would expect based on the number of fall firearms turkey hunting permits sold.

This year’s fall firearms turkey harvest included 3,877 hens, or approximately 34 per county. Isabelle said a fall turkey harvest of this size has no effect on the number of turkeys available to hunters the following spring.

“Missouri’s wild turkey population is estimated at approximately 500,000 birds,” said Isabelle. “Population modeling indicates that as long as fall harvest does not exceed 10 percent of the statewide turkey population, it has little impact on the population. Even when you combine the fall archery and firearms harvests, the total is less than 2 percent of the state’s turkey population. That is well below the 10-percent threshold.”

Isabelle said that although turkey numbers are down in parts of the state due to poor reproduction, turkey hunters can still expect some outstanding hunting opportunities during the 2011 spring season. Spring turkey hunting information is available on our website in January at www.MissouriConservation.org/node/4051.

More Hunters Apply for Hunts Under Quick Draw

Judging by the number of applications for waterfowl hunts, Quick Draw is achieving its original goals.

Quick Draw is a new system for assigning duck-hunting opportunities at the Conservation Department’s managed wetland areas. The Department is testing the system this year at Grand Pass, Eagle Bluffs and Otter Slough CAs.

More than 10,500 applications came in for hunting at Grand Pass Conservation Area (CA) during the first 11 days of hunting. The number of daily applicants fell off quickly, from more than 1,400 for the first day of hunting to a little more than 700 on the 11th day. Over the 11-day period, 164 hunters—about 1.5 percent—drew hunting spots. The success rates at Eagle Bluffs and Otter Slough for the first four days of Quick Draw (the only period completed at Conservationist press time) were 3.11 and 3.33 percent, respectively.

For more information about Quick Draw, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/node/10272. To view the number of hunters applying for and receiving reservations under Quick Draw, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/node/10493.

Instead of requiring hunters to apply for waterfowl hunting reservations weeks or months in advance as the traditional reservation system does, Quick Draw lets them apply a few days ahead of time. Quick Draw assigns 80 percent of hunting slots in advance instead of the 50 percent under the traditional system, and successful Quick Draw applicants find out their number in the order of hunting-spot selection ahead of time, instead of the morning of the hunt.

The Department had several goals for the system. One was to make applying for reservations more convenient, economical and practical for hunters who must drive long distances to managed wetland areas. Quick Draw also was designed to help out hunters whose work schedules are less flexible or who want to introduce school-age hunters to waterfowling. If it achieved these goals, Quick Draw also might recruit more hunters into a sport with significant entry barriers.

One other benefit to Quick Draw is that it allows hunters to take weather conditions into account when deciding when to apply for hunts.

Quick Draw retains an important feature of the traditional reservation system – the ability of hunters without reservations to draw for a portion of hunting opportunities by joining the “poor line” each morning.

Early-season results showed good success among reservation-less hunters, thanks to smaller poor-line turnouts.