After Successful Start, Deer Hunters Still Have Time

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Bill Konway proves the late season can produce great bucks.

Bill Konway proves the late season can produce great bucks.

Missouri deer hunters have experienced much success this season, but there is still plenty of time left to hunt. The November portion of firearms season has come and gone, but archery season remains open through Jan. 15. The firearms antlerless season is Dec. 2-4, and firearms alternative methods season is Dec. 24 through Jan. 3.

With temperatures soaring into the high 70s across much of Missouri during the November portion of the firearms season, one might have figured our statewide deer harvest would be down significantly, but that wasn’t the case. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), deer hunters in Missouri harvested 185,066 deer during the November portion of fall firearms deer season. Last year, hunters checked 186,542 deer during the 2015 November portion of firearms deer season.

Of the 185,066 deer harvested, 95,383 were antlered bucks, 18,889 were button bucks, and 70,794 were does. Top harvest counties were Howell with 3,910 deer checked, Franklin with 3,738, and Texas with 3,562.

Hunters were more successful this year during the opening weekend firearms deer season, Nov. 12 and 13. Hunters harvested 96,131 deer during the opening weekend. Last year hunters checked 93,896 deer during the opening weekend.

Youth hunters saw a slight decrease in the number of deer killed during the early youth season. Young hunters ages 6 through 15 checked 11,171 deer during Missouri’s early youth portion of the 2016 deer hunting season, which ran Oct. 29-30. Last year’s harvest total for the early youth portion was 13,583. Data from the late portion of youth season is not yet available.

For those hunters still hoping to fill a tag or two, late season deer hunting can sometimes feel like a post-apocalyptic scene from a movie. As you sit in the bitter cold starring out across empty expanses watching nothing but wind whipping snow, swearing there isn’t another life form within miles, you start to think your friends watching football by a fireplace are the smart ones. Don’t give up hope. The deer are still there and in the right spot the action can be hot. The key is finding their favorite food source.

Deer congregate in large groups throughout the winter, so once you find their preferred food source you’re likely to have found the majority of the deer in your general vicinity. The key to successfully hunting late season deer once you’ve located them is to never let them know you’re there. This means scent control is paramount, as is entering and exiting your stand site without being seen.

Having more than one stand site is extremely important during the late season. You’re hunting pressured deer, so any clues of your presence are going to spook them and disrupt their pattern. For example, if I know deer are coming out onto an agricultural field in the evening, I’m not going to chance messing that up by hunting there in the morning. I’ll hunt in the woods on acorns in the morning, and slip into my evening stand a couple of hours before dark.

Scent control is important during the late season. The remaining deer have been hunted for months now and are on pins and needles, so you need to be as scent free as possible. Your clothes have to be scent free, your hair and body has to be scent free and your gear has to be scent free. Spray your boots before you walk in. I can’t stress the importance of scent control enough.

See you down the trail…

Brandon Butler


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