The first weekend of the firearms deer hunting season produces more than 100,000 dead deer. That’s down from last year’s opening weekend total of 124,000. A Missouri Conservation Department spokesman suggests the warm weather is to blame for the reduced kill, because hunters don’t want the meat to spoil before they get it out of the woods.
A bill dealing with shipwrecks and fishing, hunting and trapping on private land becomes a point of controversy, because of one section cracking down on drug dealing near parks. At least one representative contends that provision unduly targets minorities.
Anyone dealing heroin, cocaine, LSD, amphetamine or methamphetamine within a thousand feet of a park would be charged with a Class A felony, which carries a penalty of 10-to-30 years in prison and possibly even life behind bars. That provision is included in a section of HCS SCS SB 198 . And that provision sparked heated debate.
Rep. Jonas Hughes (D-Kansas City) represents an urban core district. Hughes objects to the provision, saying that it unfairly targets the inner city. He says there is virtually no part of his legislative district that would be outside that one thousand foot boundary. Hughes says that’s not the case in suburban or rural districts. He contends the provision violates fair sentencing guidelines, because it would punish drug dealers caught in his legislative district harsher than drug dealers caught in most other legislative districts.
Rep. Brian Yates (R-Lee’s Summit) doesn’t agree with Hughes’ premise. He says there are plenty of parks in his district as well. Yates leads the effort to prevent Hughes from stripping that provision from the bill. Yates counters that those who deal drugs near places that families recreate should be punished more severely.
The House rejects the effort to strip the section from the bill, approves it and returns it to the Senate.
It seems a simple bill to register more Missourians to vote wouldn’t cause much of a stir at the Capitol, but it seems Democrats don’t trust majority Republicans pushing the plan.
Missourians who apply for a hunting or a fishing permit who aren’t registered to vote would get a voter registration card in the mail from the Secretary of State’s office under HCS HB 845 sent to the Senate by the House.
Assistant Minority Floor Leader, Rep. Paul LeVota (D-Independence), wonders about what motivates the sponsor, asking how he would explain the purpose of the bill. Rep. Bob Dixon (R-Springfield) responds that that’s easy; he wants to expand the voter registration lists. Dixon says he also hopes that prompts more people to get involved in the political process.
But who that might lure into the political process is the contention between members of the two political parties. Democrats question whether Republicans are simply targeting potential voters friendly to the GOP. Republicans deny the charge, stating the "hunter-voter" should be viewed the same as "motor-voter", which allows people to register to voter when they get their driver’s licenses.
House debate got tense at times, with a few heated exchanges. Democrats wanted to broaden the bill, but Dixon kept it narrowly focused on hunters and anglers. Despite the sniping, it passes on a 118-to-39 vote, and moves for the Senate’s consideration.
Missouri’s regular Spring Turkey Hunting Season begins Monday. And, as the hunters take to the woods, the State Conservation Department is talking up the successes of one of its safety programs. The Department’s Laurna Domke says the Missouri Hunter Education program has helped to cut down on the number of hunting accidents and deaths.
Starting in 1988, the state has required anyone born after January 1st, 1967, to successfully complete a mandatory hunter education course to qualify for purchasing firearm permits. Before the training was introduced, Missouri averaged approximately 100 firearm hunting accidents a year. Today, Missouri averages about 30 accidents each year. The program is taught primarily by about 2,000 volunteer instructors, who teach and certify about 26,000 students a year.
Turkey hunting season runs through May 6th.
The Missouri Mountain Lion Response team says it has evidence of two more cougars in Missouri; one in north Missouri, near Chillicothe, and another in the Ozarks. A camera on a deer trail in Livingston County activated by a motion sensor has photographed one cougar. Wildlife forensics experts have confirmed a deer carcass in southeast Missouri’s Shannon County had been partly-eaten by a cougar, and then covered with leaves and brush. The response team says these are the ninth and tenth mountain lions confirmed in Missouri in the last 12 years.
Good weather has made for good hunting on the first weekend of the firearms season for deer hunters. Missouri deer hunters have harvested deer at a near-record rate. State Conservation Department spokesman Arlicia Mayes says the kill on the first weekend was 124,271 deer. That compares to 110,995 on the opening weekend last year and just a few thousand shy of the record set in 2004 of about 127,000. There was one fatal accident over the weekend. The department is investigating. Mayes says information will not be released until more can be learned about it. There were three non-fatal accidents. Mayes says the cool, dry weather seemed to make the deer more active and was pleasant enough to bring out a number of hunters who might have been discouraged if it had rained. Seven counties recorded more than 2,000 deer killed. Benton County had the highest kill at 2,621, followed by Callaway County at 2,559 and Pike County at 2,334.
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Missouri Department of Conservation
The conservation department’s agents have looked under 47-hundred oak trees to forecast this year’s deer-kill. A good year for acorns will mean an decent but not record-breaking season for deer hunters. The red oak acorn crop is up two percent from last year and the white oak acorn crop is up nine percent in Missouri. It’s the second straight year for a bumper acorn crop. And deer biologist Lonnie Hanson says that’s likely to mean a second straight season that will require some extra work by hunters. Why? It’s because the deer won’t have to move around as much as they would move if they had to look for food. He says hunters are not as successful in the Ozarks as they are when the acorn crop is down a deer have to do more foraging. In a bad acorn year, deer will go to fields and open areas where they’re more vulnerable to hunters…as was the case in the record kill year of 2004. His advice for deer hunters in acorn areas—The smart hunter should be in the woods where there are a lot of oaks–where acorns are…and therefore, where the deer are. The season for firearms hunters begins Saturday. He thinks it will be good overall because deer numbers are strong—and outstanding in north Missouri where the acorn influence is much less.
This is the first day that Missouri hunters can take to the fields and woods in quest of the cunning quail. But the Conservation Department says the sport is in decline. The department says quail hunting should be improved this year—that quail have made a significant recovery from last year although the bird count is only about half of the long-term average. Last year’s census was the lowest ever recorded. The department expects about 33-thousand hunters in the field this fall and winter. But the department’s Tom Dailey says that’s down about 70 percent from the 40-year average. He says there deer, turkey, and duck hunting are serious competition for quail hunting. In fact, he says deer hunting seems to be the entry level for many hunters because it’s an easier sport and doesn’t require a dog. But Dailey says quail hunters usually do well although they get only about half of the birds available. The season lasts until January 15th. Hunters can kill eight birds a day…but cannot have more than 16 at any one time.
Thousands of Missouri turkey hunters are in the woods today as the regular spring season gets underway. Jeff Beringer, resource scientist with the State Conservation Department, says poorer hatches the last few years means wild turkey numbers in the state are a bit lower than say a decade or so ago. But he says the hunting should still be good. Beringer says the most successful hunters take some time to know their prey before actually setting up for the hunt. Beringer says this year could end up being a pretty good hatch of turkeys with plenty of food for the poults and with a little luck, dry weather when they hatch. He says that should set up continued success for Missouri turkey hunters in the future.
A black bear has been shot to death near the southeast Missouri town of Marquand by a man who says he was afraid the bear would attack his dog. The bear weighed 400 pounds. A representative of the State Conservation Department says no charges will be filed, although it’s illegal to kill black bears in Missouri. He says the man killed the bear to protect his private property.