Deer Hunting Changes on the Horizon

Content Image

Deer hunting is not all about antler inches. The smiles on the faces of Jeremy and Kalynn Stephens are proof.

Deer hunting sure has changed. Just 20 years ago, we took to the woods with little more than the hope of seeing and shooting a buck. Not a specific buck identified with motion activated cameras, just a buck that happened to walk within range. There were no “hit lists” of deer we had named. We just went hunting, and if we got one, we weighed it to see how much meat we had harvested.

Today, deer hunting is different. Ego and competition have poisoned one of the purest pursuits on the planet. What was once about gathering nourishment for your body and soul has been manipulated into a quest for chest thumping based only on the size of the rack atop a deer’s head. The value of the experience, the hunt, has been greatly diminished by the value of the outcome.

Unfortunately, I see little hope for returning to our roots. The outdoor media, especially television shows, have created a platform for marketing today’s sad misconception of success. The outdoor media industry has been manipulated by billions of dollars of product promotion, and it’s only becoming worse. Hunting has become NASCAR, meaning sponsors and corporate allegiances take precedence over all else. The observant public follows suit, with delusions of grandeur that they too one day will be standing in victory lane hoisting above their heads a deer rack worthy of public praise and attention as confetti showers down.

The pursuit of large antlers has become so horrendously perverted that those with the financial means can skip the entire hunting process all together. In many states, including Missouri, a captive deer industry exists to cater to those who just want to shoot a “trophy buck.” These properties are surrounded by a high-fence, so the deer have absolutely no chance of escape. You can pick out the one you want to kill from photographs and then go find it in the enclosure and shoot it. Or, in some cases you can wait to see what comes by and choose to shoot a deer based on the cost attributed to the color of the tag hanging from its ear. A small, but very vocal, contingent of people actually believe this is hunting.

So now those of us desperately holding on to the heritage of what hunting truly is are losing ground every time we turn around. Product manufactures keep producing tools to further disadvantage our quarry. Politicians are approving lesser rules for deer breeding operations, even though nearly every wildlife biologist in the country warns about the dangers of disease associated with these confined animal operations. And even state agencies are beginning to cave to the cries of the antler-crazed crowd. Our Missouri Department of Conservation included.

This new generation of deer hunters has amassed enough size and strength to begin influencing rules and regulations, and they want some changed here in Missouri. MDC is just doing what they must, which is listening to and acting upon the desires of the citizens the agency serves.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is currently seeking public comment on these proposed rule changes.

For the fall firearms deer season, MDC proposes:

  • Maintaining the current timing of the November portion but reducing the length from 11 days to nine days.
  • Expanding the late youth firearms weekend from two days to three days and having it begin the Friday after Thanksgiving instead of early January.
  • Reducing the length of the antlerless firearms portion from 12 days to three days and beginning it on the first Friday in December.
  • Eliminating the urban zones portion.

For the fall archery deer and turkey season, MDC proposes:

  • Allowing crossbows as a legal method.
  • Reducing the limit of antlered deer during the archery season from two to one.

Personally, I support rule changes that increase the opportunity for recruitment and retention of hunters, and oppose those only rooted in increasing the number of bucks with big antlers. How you feel should be communicated to the MDC. If you care about deer hunting, then attend one of the MDC open houses currently taking place and voice your opinion. If you can’t attend an open house, then submit your thoughts via written letter or email. All the information you need is listed here –

We, as Missourians, are fortunate that the Missouri Department of Conservation employs some of the greatest wildlife biologists in the country. The Department’s mission is to do what is best for the resource, but within the parameters of best managing the resource, the MDC rightfully bends to public desire. Submit your comment and let your voice be heard, or live with the consequences as a member of the silent majority.

See you down trail…

Brandon Butler


Previous Post
Senate Bill 56...


Next Post
Conservation Day...