November deer harvest down – Outdoors with Bill Wehrle

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Bill Wehrle column

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Missouri’s 2020 November firearms deer season ended on Nov. 24 and the final harvest total of 176,604 was down a little from last year’s 178,931, probably the result of unfavorable deer hunting weather during part of the 11-day season.

Based on hunter reports, there appears to be no shortage of deer, as their population has apparently recovered from the EHD die-off in 2012. As a result of the reduction in deer population back then, only 157,224 deer were taken in the 2013 November season.

The current record harvest is the 235,209 deer checked in during the November season in 2006, before the EHD outbreak killed off a lot of deer.

Top deer harvest counties this year were Howell with 3,496 deer checked in, Franklin with 3,409, and Texas County with 3,374.

Area counties were led by Linn with 1,807 deer taken, Daviess with 1,532, and Carroll with 1,466 (Livingston County recorded 1,266).

Local and area hunters had to deal with some early days of high winds and then drizzly rain the last two or three days.

All in all, it was a pretty good season, with some outstanding trophy bucks taken in the local area and several “first deer” recorded by young hunters.

Hunters still needing venison have two remaining firearms deer seasons.

The first is an antlerless season, open in almost all north Missouri counties, which began Friday and ends tomorrow. A deer is considered “antlerless” as long as its longest antler (spike) is less than 3 inches long.

The second remaining “gun” season is an alternative methods deer season December 26-January 5 in which centerfire rifles and shotguns are not legal. Legal methods include muzzleloading firearms, centerfire handguns, air-powered guns, bows, including crossbows, and atlatls.

Once those two are over, only archery deer season remains and it will close on Jan. 15. Missouri’s archery season allows the use of crossbows as well as vertical bows.

Archery season opened on Sept. 15 and archers have already checked in 55,309 deer. Permitting the use of crossbows has increased the archery deer harvest considerably and technological improvements in compound bows and crossbows has given archers much-better tools to hunt with and an increase in harvest is proof of this.

Deer hunting grabbed the hunting spotlight during the November season, but the state’s hunters still have a lot of other seasons to entertain them.

Missouri’s North Zone duck season will be open until Jan. 5, and goose season is open until Feb. 6, so there’s lots of waterfowling time left. However, it seems that duck migrations to this area are long overdue or else not coming at all. The only real migratory duck “push” occurred back in October, and there have been no discernible migrations since.

“Are any more duck migrations on the way?”  is the question being raised by local and area duck hunters who are only seeing very few ducks in their days in the blind. But, as they say, “You won’t know if you don’t go”.

Quail hunting also appears to be progressing slowly, and I’ve heard no reports of exciting limit days in the quail fields.

Good luck to all the hunters who are stubbornly still going out despite not much success. Good hunting!

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