Ask the Ombudsman
Q: Are albino or partial albino game animals protected from harvest?
A: No, in Missouri they fall under the same regulations as the normally colored animals. One reference estimated the frequency of true albino deer as about one in 30,000, though partially albino (also called piebald) deer occur somewhat more frequently. It is not unusual for albinism to be associated with poor eyesight and other disabilities that can affect the survival of those animals in the wild. To artificially protect the occasional albino individuals would allow those negative characteristics to become more frequent in the population. I do think that many Missouri deer hunters would be reluctant to shoot an albino animal. A few states prohibit the harvest of albino deer, for cultural rather than biological reasons, but most wildlife management agencies have not taken that position.
Q: If deer have a life expectancy of 5 to 6 years, why do you never find dead deer in the woods or fields that have died from natural causes?
A: Your life expectancy numbers include the probability of unnatural death. Deer are in the prime of life between 2.5 and 7.5 years of age, and some may live for 15 years in the wild. Excluding hunting and disease outbreaks, the annual mortality of deer older than 6 months of age is less than 5 percent. That’s fewer than five deer out of a hundred dying natural deaths each year, and those deaths are spread out over 365 days of the year. During warmer seasons, deer carcasses will “melt” into the ground quickly and can easily go unnoticed. When deer that die from natural mortality are observed, we may assume incorrectly that the carcasses resulted from deer that were killed by hunters or vehicle collisions. This year there has been an increase in deer mortality from hemorrhagic disease.
Encouraging Safe, Knowledgeable and Responsible Hunters
One of the most rewarding aspects of being an active outdoors enthusiast is passing on your knowledge and experience to someone else. Whether by participating in outdoor activities within your community, taking a child hunting or fishing, or inviting someone else to go hunting with you. The time you invest in such a project is well worth it. For many new hunters, this journey starts by attending a hunter education course.
This course focuses on producing knowledgeable, responsible, and involved hunters and reducing the number of hunting incidents. In Missouri, every hunter born on or after Jan. 1, 1967, must complete an approved hunter-education program in Missouri or another state to buy firearms hunting permits, with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions involves hunting with the Apprentice Hunter Authorization.
Apprentice Hunter Authorizations are designed to help introduce adults to hunting. MDC allows hunters age 16 and older who are not hunter-education certified to hunt with firearms, as long as they take all three of these steps:
- Purchase an Apprentice Hunter Authorization.
- Purchase a hunting permit for the season they want to hunt.
- Hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed adult hunter who is 18 years of age or older and has in his/ her possession a valid hunter-education certificate card, or was born before January 1, 1967.
This authorization may be purchased annually for no more than two permit years (March 1 through the last day of February).
Safety is the number one priority. Here are some tips to help you stay safe this season:
- Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
- Unload your firearm before crossing obstacles, approaching populated areas such as parking lots and campsites, or climbing up or down tree stands.
- Let someone know where you will be hunting and when you plan to return home.
- Inspect and clean your equipment before taking it afield.
- Always use a safety harness while in a tree stand.
- Hoist your unloaded firearm into your tree stand after you are secured.
- Bring binoculars or a spotting scope with you to properly identify wildlife. NEVER use your mounted sight until you KNOW what you are aiming at.
- Make sure your target has a safe backstop. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the hunt. Next time you come to a fence crossing or begin to climb your tree stand, just remember to take your time and be safe.