JEFFERSON CITY Mo — Rain and cooler temperatures across Missouri came just in time for the Nov. 13-14 opening weekend of the state’s firearms portion of deer season.
Harvest numbers for 2010 opening weekend were up almost 14 percent over 2009 with 97,856 deer checked compared to 86,202 last year.
The top harvest counties for opening weekend were Benton with 1,968 deer checked, Callaway with 1,749 deer checked and Macon with 1,719 deer checked.
“Cooler weather and some rain before and during opening weekend improved conditions for hunters, and were also good for deer activity,” said Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Resource Scientist Lonnie Hansen, who is in charge of the MDC’s deer-management program.
Hansen noted that heavy rain during four of the first five days of the 2009 deer firearms portion was a major factor in lower numbers last year. Adding to that were weeks of wet weather before the season, which forced farmers to leave a considerable amount of corn standing. This provided a refuge for deer and made them more difficult to find.
He added that hunters usually harvest about 60 percent of the total for the November portion of the deer firearms season during opening weekend.
There were three self-inflicted injuries, two incidents of falls from tree stands and no fatalities reported during opening weekend.
Hansen said that hunters play a vital role in managing the population of Missouri’s most valuable wildlife resource.
“Adult deer have no widespread natural predators in Missouri so hunting is the primary way to control the population,” he explained. “Missouri is a great place to hunt deer.”
Hansen added that deer hunting enriches the state and local economies and Missourians' quality of life. “Nearly 500,000 deer hunters spend more than $750 million each year directly related to deer hunting. Deer hunting in Missouri generates more than $1 billion in overall business activity and supports more than 11,000 jobs.”
Deer hunters still have opportunities to fill their freezers, and to also help their neighbors through the Share the Harvest program. Share the Harvest provides a way for deer hunters to donate venison to the needy.
The November portion of firearms deer season continues through Nov. 23. The firearms deer antlerless portion runs Nov. 24 to Dec. 5. The second round of the archery deer season runs Nov. 24 to Jan. 15. The muzzleloader portion runs Dec. 18-28. A second firearms youth weekend will be Jan. 1-2.
More information on the 2010 deer season and on Share the Harvest can be found at www.MissouriConservation.org, or in the 2010 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet available at MDC offices and where permits are sold.