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Firearms deer season open; remember baiting, hunter-orange rules

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Deer season now open

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Missouri’s most participated-in hunting season is the November firearms deer season, which opened Nov. 14 and will run through Nov. 24.

There are some deer hunting regulations that perhaps bear repeating, so the excitement of hunting Missouri’s biggest game doesn’t get a hunter in trouble. Two of these regulations pertain to placing “bait” to attract deer and the mandatory wearing of hunter orange clothing.

The baiting “no-no” has been in effect for a long time, but some newer deer hunters may not be aware of it.

Missouri Department of Conservation regulations state “The use of bait, including grain or other feed placed or scattered to attract deer while hunting is illegal.”

These regulations were established to insure “fair chase” and now are emphasized as a means to help limit the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD). An area is considered baited for 10 days after complete removal of the bait.

A hunter is in violation of this regulation if he/she knows the area is or has been baited, even though that hunter didn’t actually place the bait. It’s also illegal to place bait in such a way that it causes other hunters to be in violation of the rule.

Doe urine and other scents, such as apple, acorn, and persimmon, are allowed to attract deer while hunting, as long as they are not used on or with grain and other food products. Mineral blocks, including salt, are not considered bait, but if the mineral blocks contain any grain or other food additives, they are prohibited. Mineral and salt blocks are not allowed on conservation areas.

It is legal to hunt over a harvested crop field, but illegal to add grain or other crops, such as apples, to the field after it has been harvested. Manipulating crops, such as mowing or knocking them down, is not considered baiting for deer.

The baiting regulations were established to keep deer from concentrating in small areas, which – in addition to emphasizing “fair chase” – also limits the potential of deer-to-deer transmission of CWD.

Another reminder is the requirement for deer hunters and some other hunters to wear a certain amount of hunter-orange clothing during the November firearms deer season.

Hunters must wear a hunter-orange hat or cap and a shirt, coat or vest that makes the hunter-orange visible from all sides. Camouflage orange does not satisfy this requirement. Mentors with a hunter must also comply with this requirement.

Hunters hunting any species of game, except migratory game birds, must comply with the hunter-orange requirement.

All hunters must wear hunter-orange during firearms deer season, if they are hunting on an area having a managed firearms deer hunt or serving as a mentor to another hunter. They don’t have to comply with this regulation if they are hunting on federal or state land where deer hunting is restricted to archery methods or are using an archery permit or are hunting small game or furbearers during the alternative methods season or in a closed county during the antlerless portion.

Be safe. Wear your orange.

Duck and goose seasons are open now and seem to be progressing slowly in the local area. Maybe it’ll get better. 

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