Resident landowners are getting a big -- and pleasant -- surprise when they visit permit vendors to pick up 2004 deer and turkey hunting permits. The surprise is a result of changes in this year's Missouri hunting regulations.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has long allowed people to hunt deer and turkey on their own land at no cost. The policy recognizes the critical role that private land plays in sustaining Missouri's abundant game.
In the past, those who owned at least five, but fewer than 75 continuous acres, could hunt on their land without a permit. They could take turkeys and deer and "farm tag" them with a piece of paper bearing the hunter's name and address.
Those who owned at least 75 continuous acres could farm-tag deer, too. In addition, these larger landowners could apply by mail months in advance to receive free antlerless deer permits.
That system had several disadvantages. For one thing, some landowners had to go through an application process to get all the permits available to them. Postal delays sometimes kept hunters wondering right up to opening day whether they would get their permits.
Through check station data, the Conservation Department could count successful farm tag hunters, but it had no way of knowing how many small landowners hunted unsuccessfully. This made it impossible to tell exactly how many deer hunters there were in the state. Not knowing about possibly thousands of hunters made it impossible to include them in surveys to learn their attitudes and preferences and measure hunting pressure.
This year, farm tags no longer are valid. Instead, landowners are getting no-charge permits directly from permit vendors. Missourians who own between five and 74 continuous acres now qualify for:
* One firearms any-deer tag
* Two fall firearms turkey tags
* Two archery deer tags
* Two archery antlerless-deer tags
* Two archery turkey tags.
Those who own 75 or more acres no longer have to apply for hunting permits ahead of time. They pick up their tags at permit vendors, too.
An exception is people who own more than one qualifying tract of land in different counties. An example would be someone who owned six acres in Boone County and 100 acres in Ozark County. To receive landowner permits valid on both tracts, the landowner would have to apply in writing. For more information on this, call 573/751-4115.
In addition to the permits available to owners of smaller tracts, those with 75 acres or more can get one or two (depending on county) extra firearms antlerless deer tags.
Not only can landowners get all these tags, so can anyone who lives in the home with the landowner.