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Missouri turkey hunting season ends, duck season to start soon

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Fall firearms wild turkey season ends today after being open the whole month of October. Turkeys were hard to find this year and many hunters had already given up.

However, there’s no time to rest for area hunters. The North Zone duck season will open next Saturday, Nov. 7, with only a week for hunters chasing both species to change their clothing selection, shotshells, decoys, and calls. You could easily use the same shotgun, but many of us also will change guns – just for luck.

Fall turkey hunting doesn’t draw the big crowd of hunters that spring hunting does, with only around 10,000 fall permits sold, compared to well over 100,000 in the spring.

This year, the Missouri Department of Conservation predicted that several years of poor hatches probably would make fall hunting “challenging” and, for many of us, it certainly was. As of this writing, despite several fall turkey hunts, I’ve yet to see or hear a single turkey and the Livingston County fall firearms turkey harvest was less than 20 birds.

It’ll soon be time for duck hunting, which hopefully will be more exciting than this year’s turkey hunting.

There was no spring duck population survey this year, due to COVID-19 cautions, but unofficial reports from the northern nesting grounds indicate duck numbers are basically stable from last year’s survey, so there should be plenty of ducks coming down the flyway. One migratory “push” was seen in the Grand River bottomlands the weekend of Oct. 24, so at least some ducks got the cold weather message to “move on south.”

The COVID-19 situation has caused the MDC to alter this year’s refuge waterfowl hunting process, and they have determined procedural levels for the various refuges open to duck hunting.

The good news is that two local area waterfowl areas – Fountain Grove and Grand Pass – will have the least restrictive rules governing securing blinds. Hunters will need to check with their selected refuge hunting area to determine exactly what regulations are in order for this season. There will be no pre-season application period, with all reservations allocated through the weekly in-season draw.

Missouri offers five firearms deer seasons and the first one – early youth season – is this weekend (today and tomorrow).

The November firearms season will be open on Nov. 14-24, during which archery deer and turkey season which has been open since September will be temporarily closed. Archery hunting for deer and turkey will reopen Nov. 25 and run through Jan. 15.

A “late” youth firearms deer hunting season will run Nov. 27-29,  an antlerless-only season from Dec. 4-6, and the final firearms season – an alternative methods segment – will be Dec. 26-Jan. 5.

Legal methods of harvesting a deer vary from season to season, so be sure to check the regulations..

Although often overlooked by Missouri hunters, due to low upland game-bird populations, quail and pheasant seasons will open tomorrow (Nov. 1) and run through Jan. 15.

If you go, wear lots of orange, because there will be deer hunters out hunting during much of the bird season. MDC studies have found slightly-higher quail populations this year, but lower pheasant numbers. The birds are still out there, but it’ll probably take a lot of walking to find them.

Whether you’re hunting ducks, upland birds, or deer, good luck and be safe!

(Bill Wehrle’s outdoors sports column appears in the Constitution-Tribune each Saturday.)