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OUTDOORS : Archery deer hunters set bedw record

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor
Bill Wehrle column

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor  

Missouri deer and turkey firearms and archery hunters had a great year in 2020-21, with total harvests of 296,516 deer and 46,474 wild turkeys.

Archery hunters had their second-best year ever, with a record-setting harvest for deer. Archery hunters checked in 67,180 deer, almost 6,000 more than last year’s previous record, and 2,905 turkeys, the best year for archery turkeys since 2015 and almost 500 more turkeys than last year’s archery season.

It was a super year for Missouri archers!

Missouri deer populations are obviously recovered from the 2012 EHD-caused decline, as the total firearms deer harvest was near the record level of close to 300,000 set back in the early 2000s.

On the other hand, Missouri’s estimated wild turkey population is now less than 400,000 birds, far below the record numbers of close to 750,000 in the late 1900s and early 2000s.

The wild turkey archery harvest hadn’t exceeded 3,000 birds since 2015, was at all-time low of 1,942 in 2019, and now jumped to 2,905 this archery season. Go figure!

Missouri’s top archery deer harvest counties were Jefferson with 1,630 and St. Louis with 1,384. The top archery turkey harvest counties were Greene with 84 and Franklin with 78.

Top area archery deer harvest counties were Linn with 630 and Daviess with 554. Top local archery turkey harvesting counties were Daviess with 51 and Livingston with 42.

Weather may be a determining factor in archery hunter’s success and this fall’s weather was great for hunting, with cool temperatures, very little rainfall (no floods), and relatively calm winds. Pleasant weather equals more hunter-days creating more chances to take a deer or turkey. 

Allowing the use of crossbows in archery season may have enticed more hunters to give archery hunting a try, and crossbows have proven to be an accurate, deadly way to take a turkey or deer. For whatever reasons, 2020-21 was a record-setting archery harvest season. 

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed it, but we presently have a shortage of firearms and ammo in many stores that handle these products.

Similar to the short supply of other goods like toilet paper, much of the shortage is created by consumers, who fearing a possible shortage, buy all they can, often way more than they really need. This hoarding creates a marketplace shortage, which creates more hoarding, until we finally realize how silly this is.

Firearms and ammo shortages may result from the unsettled political activity we’re experiencing  and the fear that we may be facing restrictions on these items. Manufacturers are producing them at record levels, but sales are also at record levels.

Most popular firearms and ammunition are pretty hard to find, but I’ve heard stories of people “stashing” thousands of rounds of ammunition that they’ll likely never use, creating a shortage where really none existed.

Hopefully, consumers will realize soon that they’re the cause of these “shortages” and there’ll be guns and ammo on the shelves for those who really need them.

Fishing time is just a month or six weeks away and turkey season will be here pretty soon. Get ready for some great fun in Missouri’s outdoors!

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