WEST PLAINS, Mo. – This year’s harvest during firearms deer season in the Missouri Ozarks decreased by 17% from last year, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Protection Regional Supervisor Gary Cravens said weather had a lot to do with the lower harvest numbers.
“The season began with unseasonable warm and windy conditions which affected deer movement and made hunting difficult,” Cravens said. “The second weekend of the season, wind and cold temperatures challenged hunters again with less than ideal hunting conditions.”
Even with the lower harvest number, the Ozark Region still recorded the top three counties for harvest in the state for the November portion of rifle season. Texas County led Missouri with 3,309 harvests, followed by Howell County with 3,292 and Oregon County with 3,227 harvests.
Another number that was lower from last year was the amount of road hunting complaints received by agents, Cravens said, as well as hunting violations overall.
“Tagging violations are the most common that we see out of all of our hunting violations during deer season,” Cravens said.
Violations occur when someone kills a deer and fails to tag it, someone else tags it for them or when someone takes an antlerless deer and then purchases a permit after it was harvested.
Overall, conservation agents in the Ozark Region issued 131 citations and 151 warnings. Citations were given for hunting without a permit or with an improper permit, not following tagging or Telecheck requirements, attempting to take deer from a public roadway, use of artificial light, taking over the limit of deer, failure to wear hunter orange and other miscellaneous violations.
Cravens said arrests for spotlighting and road hunting were significantly lower this year due to mild weather, windy conditions and a good red oak acorn production that lessened deer movement and kept them within the timbered areas. Even so, he reported that hunting pressure was moderate throughout firearms deer season throughout the Ozark Region.
Alternative methods deer season begins Dec. 21 and ends Dec. 31 in Missouri. For general information on deer hunting and deer hunting seasons in Missouri, go online to mdc.mo.gov.
To report a hunting violation, contact your local conservation agent or call the toll-free Operation Game Thief number 1-800-392-1111, which is manned 24 hours a day. You may remain anonymous, and you may ask to be considered for a reward.