Deer: Safety and Health

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General Safety Tips

  • Identify your target as a legal deer before putting your finger on the trigger or drawing back your bow.
  • Be aware of what is behind your target.
  • Never shoot at sounds in the brush.
  • Wear a safety belt or harness while in a tree stand.
  • Let others know your exact hunting location and when you plan to return.

Firearms Safety Tips

  • Test your unloaded gun to make sure it is mechanically sound.
  • Wear both a hunter-orange hat and a hunter-orange shirt, vest, or coat when walking to and from your hunting location, and while hunting.
  • Never climb a tree with a loaded gun.
  • Always point the gun in a safe direction.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Archery Safety Tips

  • Inspect your bow limbs for damage before hunting.
  • Inspect your bow string, and replace if it shows signs of wear.
  • Keep your arrow and bow pointed towards the ground as you nock it.
  • Never draw your bow if another hunter is in front or behind your target.
  • Never pull and release the string without an arrow.
  • Never over-draw your recurve bow.

Before you go afield

  • Practice with your stand at ground level, gradually going higher. Several Department shooting ranges and outdoor education centers have practice poles for free public use.
  • Know the proper technique for securing the stand to a tree.
  • Know how to use the stand properly.
  • Read the manufacturer's warnings and instructions before each season.
  • Use 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.

While you are hunting

  • Always use a fall arrest system that meets TMA standards, including a full-body harness rated for your weight and any gear attached to yourself.
  • Have the fall arrest system attached to the tree the entire time your feet are off 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, visit the National Bowhunter Education Foundation.

Mandatory CWD Sampling

Get details on MDC mandatory sampling activities, counties included in mandatory sampling, sampling locations, an interactive map to find locations, mandatory sampling instructions and tips, and details on mandatory sampling. 

Voluntary CWD Sampling

MDC offers free, voluntary CWD sampling of hunter-harvested deer during the entire deer-hunting season.

Diseases and Parasites

Know the signs and symptoms of these threats to Missouri's deer.