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OUTDOORS with Bill Wehrle: Fall turkey harvest up, youth deer count down

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Two of Missouri’s early-fall hunting seasons ended recently with varying results.

Fall firearms turkey season ended Oct. 31 with a final harvest total of 2,127 birds, up slightly from last year’s total of 1,952, which is the lowest fall harvest ever.

The early youth deer season during the Oct. 31-Nov. 1 weekend produced a deer harvest of 15,591, down from last year’s 18,272. Last year’s was the second-highest-ever for that season.

Firearms turkey hunting is now over for 2020, but there are plenty of deer seasons remaining, with the November firearms deer season having opened today (Nov. 14) and running through Nov. 24.

Although their deer harvest was down, young hunters took some dandy bucks, including a 14-pointer brought home by 10-year-old Raylen Shoe of rural Dawn, his second deer ever.

He may be a lot older before he brings in a better buck. His mom, Micci, told me he called her on his way home with the deer and said, “Call the taxidermist, I’ve got a good one!” .

According to Missouri Department of Conservation Cervid Program Supervisor Jason Isabelle, “This year’s early youth season harvest is on par with the average over the last few years. Whenever you have a short season like the two-day early youth portion, you can expect a variability in the harvest data from year-to-year.”

This year’s harvest of about 15,600 deer puts it about in the middle of the range for the last five years. 

The November firearms deer season which began today runs for 11 days. It will be followed by a late youth season Nov. 27-29 and an antlerless season Dec. 4-6. Firearms deer hunting will close out with an alternate methods season Dec. 26-Jan. 5.

Archery season, closed for now during the November firearms season, will reopen Nov. 25 and run through Jan. 15. Hunters have plenty of deer seasons to find a deer and put some good-eating venison in their freezer.

If a deer hunter gets bored with sitting in a tree waiting for a deer to amble by, Missouri’s North Zone duck and statewide goose seasons are now open also.

Duck season runs through Jan. 5 and goose season will close on Feb. 6, with a Light Goose Conservation Order season after that from Feb. 7-April 30

 And don’t forget quail and pheasant seasons, now open and running through Jan. 15. Missouri hunters have lots going on for the next couple of months!

Deer hunters should note that, due to Covid-19 concerns, the MDC has cancelled mandatory CWD testing for deer taken in CWD Management Zone counties. This testing was to have been required for deer taken today and tomorrow, Nov. 14-15, but won’t be required this year. Voluntary CWD testing will be available; for details on this, check the MDC website at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.

If all this available hunting isn’t enough to keep you busy, don’t forget that trapping season opens tomorrow to run through Jan. 31 on most furbearers, and is extended to end Feb. 20 on otters and muskrats, and to March 31 on beaver and nutria.

There’s lots to do in Missouri’s great outdoors at this time of year. Get out there and enjoy it!

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