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Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Missouri deer hunters set new state record for total harvest in 2023-24

For the first time in 10 years does topped antlered bucks in Missouri's total deer harvest in 2023-24. (Stock photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation)

Jefferson City, Mo. — Missouri’s 2023-2024 deer-hunting season ended Jan. 15 with a preliminary record-setting total deer harvest of 326,026. This year’s new harvest record surpasses the one set in 2006 of 325,457.

Of the deer harvested, 147,705 were antlered bucks, 29,060 were button bucks, and 149,261 were does.

By comparison, Illinois hunters harvested 157,854 deer during the 2022-2023 season. DNR has not yet released the harvest total in Illinois for the 2023-24 season, which ended Jan. 12.

In Missouri this season, the top harvesting counties were Franklin with 7,395, Howell with 6,346, and Texas with 6,181.

Hunters harvested 299,719 deer during the 2022-2023 deer hunting season with 140,735 being antlered bucks, 27,028 being button bucks, and 131,956 being does.

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Deer hunting ended with the close of the archery season. Preliminary data from MDC showed that hunters checked 55,396 deer during the 2023-2024 archery deer season. Top counties for the archery deer season were Jefferson with 1,440, Franklin with 1,194, and St. Louis with 1,022. Hunters checked 56,683 deer during the 2022-2023 archery deer season.

According to MDC, increasing deer numbers and regulation changes that added a new early antlerless firearms portion, a new CWD firearms portion, and an increase in the number of firearms antlerless deer hunting permits in most counties contributed to a record harvest.

“With deer numbers increasing in most counties, additional antlerless deer harvest is needed to slow population growth and help maintain deer numbers at desired levels,” said MDC Cervid Program Supervisor Jason Isabelle. “According to MDC, this year was the first since 2013 that more does were harvested than antlered bucks.

“Prior to the severe hemorrhagic disease outbreak in 2012 that reduced deer numbers and resulted in regulation changes to reduce antlerless harvest, doe harvest exceeded antlered buck harvest each year for about a decade,” Isabelle said. “Now that the deer population has rebounded and regulations have been liberalized, it’s nice to see the much-needed increase in antlerless harvest given our desire to slow the growth of the increasing population to maintain numbers.”

According to MDC, this year’s antlered buck harvest is the highest on record. Isabelle attributed this increase primarily to the new CWD portion of firearms deer season that was open in CWD Management Zone counties.

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