SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Because of the Ozarks' karst topography, this area is riddled with caves and sinkholes. Some sinkholes are hidden by heavy vegetation and, as evidenced by numerous incidents reported in the news in recent years, they can appear suddenly on a landscape.
As a safety precaution, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reminds hunters to be mindful of sinkholes as they travel through areas, particular during low-light times of day or in spots where vision is obstructed.
Last year, a hunter in Pulaski County died when he fell into a 70-foot sinkhole while tracking a deer.
Further evidence of hazards sinkholes pose occurred recently when, acting upon calls received from the public, MDC conservation agents found a deer in a sinkhole in Greene County. It was unclear whether the ground had given way or the deer stumbled into an existing hole. After exploring possible rescue options, it was determined regrettably there was no safe way to remove the deer from the sinkhole so the animal had to be put down. Due to safety concerns, the carcass was unable to be retrieved.
MDC would like to remind hunters that these incidents point out the importance of scouting an area in advance of a hunt. In addition to finding animal signs, a pre-hunt scouting trip can give individuals knowledge about the type of topography they'll encounter during a hunt at that area.
If hunting on someone else's land, conversations with the landowner in advance of a hunting trip can also provide information about areas that need to be avoided.
More information about hunting safety can be found at mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/hunter-education-and-safety/hunter-ethics-and-safety.