Deer seasons are over until next fall – OUTDOORS with Bill Wehrle
By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor
The last firearms deer season for 2020-21 ended Jan. 5 and archery season ended yesterday, Jan. 15, so all of Missouri’s deer seasons are now are now over.
They were productive for Missouri’s more than 500,000 deer hunters with three season segments showing increases over last year’s harvest and the other two not far off that mark.
With quail and pheasant seasons also ending yesterday, Missouri hunters now have to find other outdoor activities to pass the time until the April opening of spring turkey season.
Missouri’s first two deer season segments – early youth season and the November firearms season – both produced fewer deer checked in than the same segments last year, although not far below last year’s totals.
The last three segments – late youth season, antlerless season and alternate-methods season – each resulted in more deer being taken than last year.
The total firearms deer harvest for this year was just over 3,000 more deer checked in this year than last year. The archery deer season total for this year is not yet available, but it will be more than 3,000 above last year’s, so the 2020-21 final harvest total will be more than 6,000 above the 2019-20 total.
This year’s “alternate methods” season’s total harvest of 14,566 was almost 2,677 more deer checked in than in the same season last year and is a new record for that segment’s harvest.
This season, which used to be just a muzzleloader season, has shown a pretty good increase in the number of deer taken since the season methods were expanded from only muzzleloaders and archery methods to allow the use of centerfire handguns and crossbows. Firearms manufacturers are now producing “short rifles” that meet the handgun definition for this season, giving hunters a viable and deadly option to “handguns.” It’s now possible to kill deer at more than 200 yards with a “handgun” during this season!
Although Missouri deer seasons are over for another year, several hunting seasons are still open for at least a little while.
A statewide goose season is still on through Feb. 6, but a Feb. 7-April 30 light goose conservation order season follows. Also still open through Feb. 15 are the annual seasons on rabbits and squirrels.
Missouri’s spring turkey season will run April 19-May 9 and is preceded by a youth turkey season April 10-11.
Due to a decline in turkey populations the last few years, turkeys may be a little harder to find this spring, so it’s not too early to try to locate some winter flocks in areas where you can hunt next spring. Turkeys located now will likely be not far away from that location in the spring.
And it’s not too early to start thinking about fishing when the water temperature goes up or even ice fishing if it goes down and produces ice safe enough to walk on. Pond and lake ice in our climate can be treacherous, so exercise caution when walking on it.
If fish were in a location last summer, they’re probably not far away from there now.
There’s always something to do in outdoors Missouri, so don’t waste your valuable time. Get out there and enjoy some outdoors time.
(Bill Wehrle’s outdoors sports column appears in the Constitution-Tribune each Saturday.)