Youth deer harvest holds steady

JEFFERSON CITY–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 Bob 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 over 1,700.

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

Next on Missouri’s deer-hunting calendar is the November Portion of Firearms Deer Season Nov. 13 through 23. This portion normally accounts for approximately 80 percent of the state’s firearms deer harvest.

Three other portions follow the November hunt. The Antlerless Portion runs from Nov. 24 through Dec. 5. The Muzzleloader Portion is Dec. 18 through 28. The final portion of the firearms season is the Late Firearms Youth Portion Jan. 1 and 2.

Missouri also has an archery deer season that opens Sept. 15 and closes Jan. 15, with an 11-day hiatus during the November firearms deer season.

Hunters spend more than 5.7 million days pursuing deer in Missouri each year. The approximately $700 million they spend on their sport annually generates $1.1 billion in business activity and supports 11,000 jobs.

-Jim Low-