November 30, 2006

November Firearms Deer Harvest Sets A Record

Good weather and an abundance of deer enabled hunters to shoot a record number of deer during Missouri’s regular firearms deer season November 11th through 21st.

The Missouri Department of Conservation recorded 235,054 deer taken during the November portion of the firearms deer season. That is up 29,594 (14.4 percent) from last year and 12,725 (5.7 percent) from the previous record, set in 2004.

The record harvest was something of a surprise, because this year’s opening weekend harvest was down by 8,865 (6.7 percent) compared to 2004.

“It was a little bit of a slow start this year compared to 2004, but a lot better than 2005,” said Resource Scientist Lonnie Hansen, the Conservation Department’s deer specialist. “However, we had good weather - not too cold or too warm and not too much rain - for most of the season, and that kept hunters in the woods.”

Hansen also noted that Missouri probably started out with a larger-than-normal number of deer this year. Hunters killed 11 percent fewer does during the 2005 hunting season than they did in 2004. That left 10,000 extra female deer in the population. Most of those would have produced two fawns, boosting the state’s deer herd.

The record deer harvest is good news for several reasons, said Hansen. “We needed a strong harvest to maintain deer numbers at optimum levels, and we got it. A lot of deer hunters had the thrill of seeing deer and putting meat in the freezer. The strong harvest will help out Share the Harvest, too.”

Share the Harvest is a joint effort of the Conservation Department and the Conservation Federation of Missouri to help hunters donate venison to charities. The program funneled 129 tons of venison into food pantries and other charities statewide last year.

The top deer-harvest counties this year were Callaway, with 4,473 deer checked, Benton with 4,411 and Pike with 4,211. The Conservation Department recorded 10 firearms-related deer hunting accidents, including two fatalities.

Scotland County hunters did their part to set the record. A total of 2,559 deer were checked in by hunters in the county, an increase of 318 from last year.

Overall the northeast district saw an increase of 5,397 deer to 41,049 to rank tops in the state. Pike County led the region, followed by Macon County with 3,942 deer and Monroe County with 3,317 deer. Neighboring county totals were Adair County (3,006 deer), Clark County (2,509 deer), Knox County (2,762 deer and Schuyler County (1,612 deer).

The 2006 November firearms deer harvest included 43 percent antlered deer, 43 percent does and 14 percent “button bucks” - young male deer with antlers measuring less than 3 inches long.

Last year, hunters killed 81,712 antlered deer. This year’s figure was 100,457 a 23 percent increase.

Approximately 475,000 people hunt deer with firearms in Missouri each year. The harvest totals have climbed from 149,112 deer in 1991 to the new record harvest of 235,054 in 2006.

The 2006 season mirrored the previous year’s totals for safety with two fatal hunting accidents. The northeast district reported two non-fatal accidents helping bring the total in that category to eight. Last year there were two fatalities and eight non-fatal accidents as well.

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