Missourians who plan to go deer hunting next year can expect changes in regulations.
The firearms deer season in November 2016 has been reduced in Missouri from eleven to nine days. Jason Sumners with the Department of Conservation says the deer population in Missouri has mostly stabilized or declined, so fewer days are needed to control the population.
“It’s also interfered a lot with other small game owners and other outdoor users in that the deer season runs on for a lengthy period of time,” said Sumners. “So if it’s not needed for population management, we can reduce the length.”
Sumners said the reduction isn’t associated with deer carrying chronic wasting disease, or CWD, but a few changes have been made for this fall in response to finding the disease in central and northeast Missouri.
“We have removed the antler point restriction for 13 additional counties,” said Sumners. “We have also increased the availability of firearms antlerless permits from one to two in those counties.”
Sumners said 26 deer have tested positive in Missouri for CWD. He said Conservation staff will be collecting samples during this fall’s deer season in the counties where the department is trying to manage CWD and additional testing will also be conducted this fall in and around where the disease has been found.
The number of bucks a deer hunter can kill has also been reduced from three to two for the 2016-17 year. A hunter is allowed one during the archery season and one during the firearms season or two during the archery season. Sumners said the change is in response to demand.
“We hear from more and more hunters that desire to shoot bucks in older age classes. One of the ways we can help accommodate that is to try to reduce some of the harvest pressure and make hunters a little more selective,” said Sumners.
Also for next year, Crossbows will be allowed during the archery deer hunting season. Sumners says the change is in part due to hunters expressing interest in using the method.
“Based on participation rates, we know that it will provide some additional hunting opportunities for younger hunters. Most importantly, it will provide some additional opportunities for folks who had dropped out of the archery hunting season. They’ll come back, especially if physically complications limit their ability to participate. We’ve looked at harvest data, hunter participation rates and those kinds of things in a number of other states that have recently allowed crossbows. We think it’s one that biologically the deer population can handle,” said Sumners.
For information on the regulations and hunting periods, visit http://mdc.mo.gov/
An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed some changes that take effect next year as taking effect this year.