December 5, 2002

State Sets New Record Despite Decline In Local Deer Harvest

Hunters killed a record number of deer during the November portion of Missouri's firearms deer hunting season and continued to improve their safety record.

Early, unofficial county tabulations show a firearms deer harvest of 217,435 statewide November 16 through 26. That is 11,586 more than last year's record harvest of 205,867.

However, relatively light hunting pressure in Scotland County resulted a slight decline in the 2002 harvest numbers. Only 1,643 deer were checked in Scotland County, which was 39 deer below the previous year.

Other local counties saw similar declines as overall, the Northeast Region was the lone area to report a decrease in deer harvested this season. The deer kill there fell 348 short of last year's.

Clark County saw the steepest decline, falling 272 deer short of 2001 with 1,986 deer checked in. Knox County had a 143 deer decrease to 1,852 deer harvested. Putnam County was 55 deer below its 2001 total of 1,639. Schuyler County increased 37 deer to 2,153 while Adair County jumped up 330 deer to 2,634.

The Missouri Department of Conservation received reports of eight firearms-related deer hunting accidents. None of the accidents was fatal. The 2002 accident count is two greater than last year. However, two of the accidents recorded in 2001 were fatal. This year's safety record is substantially better than the long-term average. Since 1980, Missouri has recorded an average of 13.5 firearms-related deer hunting accidents per year, including an average of 1.6 fatal accidents.

Two of the accidents occurred in the northeast region with one accident occurring in Schuyler County and another in Clark County.

St. Clair County led harvest totals with 4,191 deer bagged. Benton County came in second with 4,176 deer bagged, and Howell County was third with 4,091.

West-central Missouri topped the list of regional harvest totals with 37,322 deer brought to check stations. Other regional harvest totals were: Northeast, 36,421; Northwest, 32,372; Central, 24,680; East-central, 22,265; Southwest, 21,418; Ozark, 19,237; Southeast, 15,183; Kansas City, 4,433; St. Louis, 4,104.

Conservation Department officials credited fair weather and liberalized deer hunting regulations for the record harvest. Weather conditions during the 11-day season were mostly sunny, with daytime high temperatures in the 40s and 50s. That was cool enough to encourage deer activity, but warm enough for hunters to remain outdoors for long hours.

This is the first year when all any-deer permits were sold over the counter. Also for the first time, any-deer permits were good in any management unit in the state, not just in one unit as in the past. Furthermore, second bonus, antlerless-only deer hunting permits were available in 11 additional counties.

This year, the antlerless-only portion of firearms deer season will be held December 19 through December 22 instead of in January, as it has in the past. The antlerless-only portion will be open in 11 more units this year than last year. The nine-day muzzleloader hunting segment of deer season runs from December 7 through 15.

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