Expert attributes the strong harvest to favorable weather and growing awareness of the youth portions of firearms deer season.
JEFFERSON CITY-Fair weather helped participants in the Early Youth Portion of Missouri’s Firearms Deer Season post the second-largest harvest on record.
Hunters ages 6 through 15 checked 18,676 deer during the hunt Nov. 2 and 3. Top counties for the early youth hunt were Franklin with 424, Osage with 421, and Howell with 409 deer checked.
Emily Flinn, the resource scientist in charge of deer management for the Missouri Department of Conservation, says two factors – weather and increasing participation – contributed to the strong harvest.
“We had great weather for this year’s early youth hunt,” says Flinn. “The temperatures were cool but not cold, and it didn’t rain. Hunters tend to stay in the woods longer under those conditions.”
Equally important, says Flinn, is the long-term growth of participation. Traditions like those associated with the November firearms deer season take time to develop. Now in its 13th year, the youth season is developing its own traditions as experienced hunters discover the rewards of mentoring youths during a season set aside especially for that purpose. When Missouri held its first youth hunt in 2001, the Show-Me State had approximately 40,000 deer hunters under age 16. By 2012 they numbered more than 70,000.
Youth seasons are one facet of ongoing efforts to recruit new hunters. The Conservation Department also uses low-cost permits, partnerships with private mentoring programs, an Apprentice Hunter Authorization, and outdoor-skills training to encourage Missourians to take up hunting.
Missouri’s $17 Resident Firearms Any-Deer Permit is a bargain compared to the average of $46.63 for equivalent privileges in surrounding states. Missouri charges only $8.50 for a resident any-deer permit for hunters under age 16. Resident youths pay just $3.50 for antlerless-deer permits.
The Apprentice Hunter Authorization costs $10 per year and allows people 16 and older to buy hunting permits for two years without having to complete hunter-education training first. Authorization users must buy the appropriate hunting permits. They also must hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed hunter 18 years or older who is hunter-education certified or exempt from the hunter-education requirement due to age.
Missouri’s hunting tradition is essential to managing the state’s deer herd. It also contributes substantially to the state’s economy. Deer hunters spend approximately $700 million on their sport annually in Missouri, generating $1.1 billion in business activity and supporting 11,000 jobs.
The Conservation Department makes it easy to create a lasting reminder of a young hunter’s first deer. An official First Deer Certificate, complete with congratulations and signature by Conservation Department Director Robert L. Ziehmer, is available at mdc.mo.gov/node/10469. To create a certificate suitable for framing, you need only fill in the hunter’s information, print the form and add a photo.
Next on Missouri’s deer-hunting calendar is the November portion of firearms deer season Nov. 16 through 26. This portion normally accounts for approximately 80 percent of the state’s firearms deer harvest.