OUTDOORS with Wehrle: Young deer hunters have great season

Firearms deer hunting's general season commenced today

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

nBy BILL WEHRLE, C-T/LCL Outdoors Sports Editor

Missouri’s young hunters checked in 15,608 deer during the early youth-only firearms season on Oct. 30-31, slightly over last year’s total of 15,591.

The record number of deer taken in this special season for youth-only is 19,245, set in 2012. Since then, the number of deer taken by youngsters has remained pretty stable in between 14,000 and 18,000.

This year, the weather was nearly perfect for deer hunting and young hunters could stay out hunting without freezing or getting soaked.

 The top three Missouri counties in number of deer checked in were Osage with 359, Franklin with 329, and Howell with 301.

The top three area counties were Linn with 142 and Carroll and Daviess, both with 127. Livingston County hunters checked 107 and Chariton County had 115 harvested.

According to Missouri Department of Conservation cervid program supervisor Jason Isabelle, “Weather can have a big impact on harvest totals during shorter seasons.” This one was only two days long, but the weather was pretty much perfect for deer hunting.

The early youth season was the first of five Missouri firearms deer seasons, with the next one being the statewide season open to all ages Nov. 13-23. It will be followed by a late youth-only season Nov. 26-28, antlerless season Dec. 4-12, and an alternative-methods season Dec. 25-Jan. 4, 2022.

Missouri’s deer archery season, which was open from Sept. 15-Nov. 12, but closed during the November firearms season, will reopen Nov. 24 and continue through Jan. 15.

The most-popular Missouri hunting season is the November firearms season, which opened today.

The November season deer harvest normally exceeds 200,000 deer and has been over 300,000 at least once.

If the weather doesn’t turn so bad that it keeps hunters out of the woods, there should be a super deer harvest during this 2021 season. There certainly appears to be a lot of deer out there, and any hunter who’s not too picky on the sex and size of the deer he takes has an awful good chance of getting one.

Missouri’s North Zone duck season now is open and runs through Dec. 28, and goose season opened Nov. 11 to run through February 6, 2022, so waterfowl hunting here in north Missouri is in full swing.

I heard some early duck success reports that were pretty favorable, but weather is also a big influencer on duck and goose success. They are pretty long seasons, so hunters who stick with hunting them will likely be pretty successful.

Fall firearms turkey season closed Oct. 31 and the number of fall firearms turkeys checked in this fall was the lowest ever at 1,836, just over 100 turkeys fewer than the previous lowest low of 1,952 in 2019.

Not many hunters pursue Missouri turkeys during October’s 31-days season and they don’t kill many turkeys. Missouri’s turkey brood production is way down and hunters seeing few broods all summer long aren’t very interested in hunting them in the fall. Despite going fall hunting several times this fall, I failed to ever see or hear a turkey and was skunked fall hunting for the first time in many years.

Whatever your hunting sport, good luck and be safe!

(Bill Wehrle’s “Outdoors” column appears in the C-T every Saturday and LCL every Monday)