50 Years of Archery Deer Hunting

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 25, 2010

The January 1949 Conservationist reported on a group of about 50 hunters at the Mincy Public Hunting Area in deer-heavy Taney County. "The archers saw deer, shot at bucks, but brought nothing into the bag," the article stated.

"Most of the group, men and women alike, camped out despite a heavy, wet snow that fell all one day. And they walked 10-12 miles daily over thickly forested hills. But they liked it."

In 1950, 64 bowhunters bought a $5 archery deer permit, but none of those hunters were able to harvest a deer. In fact, it would be six years from the opening of the modern archery deer season before anyone would legally bag a deer with a bow and arrow.

In 1952, the rules allowed bowhunters to shoot either sex deer, and archery hunting was allowed in five counties. Jack Compton of Ferguson was hunting the Cletis McLanahan farm in Ste. Genevieve County and managed to shoot a forkhorn on Oct. 20.

Compton is credited with the first legal archery kill in modern times.

At least two hunters claimed to have killed a deer with a bow before Compton, but these claims have been discredited.

"Everyone in archery at the time knew Compton's was the first legal archery deer," Hoyt says. "There was no question."

Paul Jeffries, who was a conservation agent in the county, as well as an avid archer, says he told Compton to show off the first archery killed deer by driving "around the courthouse square until the flies followed him." Compton's mounted buck is now displayed on the wall at the St. Louis Bowhunters archery range in St. Charles.

Another archer, Clyde Dunford, harvested the second archery killed deer later that year. He also hunted the McLanahan farm.

Bowhunting was catching on, and the numbers began creeping up. By 1954, 44 counties were open to archery deer hunting and over 1,000 permits were sold. Archers harvested 22 deer.

Back then, getting a deer with a bow and arrow was rare enough to rate headlines.

W. Robert Bell, now of Mountain Home, Ark., sent us a clipping from the Oct. 31, 1953, Saline County Daily Democrat with the headline, "Slater Resident Kills Doe With Bow and Arrow."

After describing Bell shooting the doe at 50 yards with a lemonwood bow, the story said that his was the fourth deer killed in Missouri during the 17-days then allowed for archery hunting.

Since then, the numbers of archery deer hunters have

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