For many Missourians, falling leaves, shorter days and cooler nights are all indicators that we are entering one of the best seasons of the year—deer season. This year nearly half a million people will spend nearly 6 million combined days in Missouri’s outdoors hunting deer. This annual season not only connects people to the outdoors, it also injects more than $1.1 billion into Missouri’s economy. It’s an exciting time of year, so don’t let unsafe or unethical practices ruin a great thing. Please keep this information in mind when you head to the woods and fields.
Hunter Ethics and Safety Tips
Deer and turkey hunters should follow safe, ethical hunting practices. These include:
- Be sure of your target and beyond before you shoot.
- Make sure your equipment is in good working condition and your firearm is properly sighted in.
- If you hunt on private land, be sure to obtain permission from the landowner and respect his or her property as if it were your own. Scout the area you plan to hunt so you know where the boundaries, houses, roads, fences and livestock are located on the property.
- If you do not kill your deer or turkey instantly, make every effort to find the wounded animal. Permission is required to enter private land.
- Clean and care for your game properly.
- Pick up all litter, including spent ammunition. Leaving an area better than you found it is a sign of thanks for the privilege of hunting.
- Report observed violations of the law to a conservation agent or local sheriff as soon as possible.
- If you are involved in a firearms-related accident, the law requires that you identify yourself and render assistance; failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor.
- Develop your skills and knowledge, and share them with others.
- Know and obey all wildlife laws.
- Know and follow the rules of gun safety.
- Respect the rights of hunters, non-hunters and landowners.
- Make every effort to retrieve and use all game.
- Respect the land and all wildlife.
- Be sensitive to others when displaying harvested game.
- Remember, hunting is not a competitive sport.
- Beware: When using a camouflaged blind, other hunters cannot see you, even if you are wearing hunter orange. To be safe, tie hunter orange on each side of the blind so it can be seen from all sides.
Tree Stand Safety Tips
Elevated tree stands offer a better vantage point, a larger field of view and an earlier view of game. However, they also are a major cause of accidents during the deer hunting seasons.
The National Bowhunter Education Foundation recommends the following safety tips to reduce the risk of hunting from elevated tree stands:
- Practice with your stand at ground level, gradually going higher. Several Conservation Department shooting ranges and outdoor education centers have practice poles for free public use.
- Know the proper procedure for securing the stand to a tree and how to use the stand properly.
- Read the manufacturer’s warnings and instructions before each season.
- Use only stands that meet standards of the Treestand Manufacturer’s Association (TMA) rated for your weight and all gear or equipment you wear or have with you on the stand.
- Always use a fall arrest system that meets TMA standards, which includes a full-body harness rated for your weight and any gear you wear or attach to yourself.
- Have your fall arrest system attached to the tree from the moment you leave the ground, throughout the hunt and when you descend to the ground.
- Always position yourself so that you step down onto your tree stand to test its stability.
- Always use a haul line to raise and lower your gear, including unloaded firearms, bows and arrows.
For more details on tree stand safety from the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, go to www.nbef.org.
Operation Game Thief
Help catch wildlife violators. Each year, conservation agents spend time tracking down poachers who disregard regulations protecting wildlife. Here are some of the illegal activities that agents dealt with last year:
- Hunting from the road
- Disposing of deer carcasses and other body parts in streams, rivers, ponds and lakes
- Harvesting a deer or turkey and putting someone else’s transportation tag on it
- Using a spotlight to harvest deer or turkey
Rewards are available for information leading to the arrest of game law violators. The Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Conservation sponsor this program. Information can be provided anonymously by dialing the toll-free hotline number. All information is kept in strict confidence.
If you see a possible poaching violation in progress, immediately call your conservation agent, sheriff or the toll-free hotline number. Help put game thieves out of business. Dial toll-free 1-800-392-1111.
Hunters, Meat Processors Can Reduce Lead Risk
Recent studies have shown that people who eat venison taken with lead-based ammunition may be exposed to lead bullet fragments in the meat. Removal of the tissue immediately around the wound area will reduce, but likely will not eliminate, exposure to lead.
Health officials in Missouri and several other states have reviewed this new information and concluded that lead in venison is a concern, but not a human health crisis. They note that millions of deer and other big game animals are taken by hunters each year to help control big game populations. However, caution is advised for young children, or women of childbearing age. Children less than 6 years of age are particularly sensitive to lead exposure because of their developing bodies. Concerns for lead exposure extend to pregnant women and women of childbearing age because they can pass lead to their unborn children.
The selection of ammunition for hunting deer and turkey in Missouri is a matter of personal choice. The Conservation Department strives to make the most current research available so hunters can make informed decisions. For those concerned about this new information, one solution is to use nontoxic ammunition that is available at most ammunition outlets.
If you would like more information about deer hunting in Missouri, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/node/2458