This is turning out to be the best deer hunting season in Missouri in several years.

A couple of small seasons are ahead. But the conservation department’s Jason Sumner says the recent alternative weapons season kill has pushed numbers higher than the department has seen for a while. The total is about 304,000, about five percent more than last year at this time. He says this is the first time in several years the total has topped 300,000.

A two-day youth firearms hunt will be this weekend. A bow and arrow season will end the cycle next month. The recently-finished alternative weapons season saw a deer kill approaching 15,000. The alternative season was created in 1988 for muzzleloaders. This year it was expanded to allow center-fire handguns, archery methods including atlatls, air-powered rifles and, of course, muzzleloaders.

AUDIO: Sumner interview 3:09