Missouri archers will have more days to hunt deer than ever before this year. In all but 14 southeastern counties, they will be able to fill any number of antlerless deer tags. But like gun hunters, archers will have to count antler points before shooting at bucks in 29 counties.
This year's archery deer season is Sept. 15 through Nov. 12 and Nov. 24 through Jan. 15 statewide. The opening date is 15 days earlier than in the past.
This year, the Conservation Department is testing a new strategy for harvesting more female deer and fewer antlered deer. Hunters in selected counties will not be allowed to take bucks with antlers longer than three inches unless they have at least four points on one side. The restriction will apply to all archery and firearms deer hunters except during the youth portion of the firearms deer hunting season.
Counties where the antler restrictions apply are Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Boone, Chariton, Cole, Davies, DeKalb, Franklin, Gasconade, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Howard, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Maries, Mercer, Miller, Nodaway, Osage, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Schuyler, Sullivan, and Worth.
By shifting the deer harvest in these counties toward antlerless deer, the Conservation Department hopes to accomplish two things. One is to harvest more female deer. That makes it easier to control deer numbers, reduce the number of deer-vehicle accidents and decrease crop and other property damage due to deer browsing.
The other goal is to allow antlered deer to survive longer. This is expected to increase the number of mature male deer, which have larger antlers and are prized by many hunters.
Only antler points at least an inch long count toward the four-point minimum. As long as a deer has four qualifying points on one side of its antlers, the number on the other side does not matter.
The Conservation Department held 26 public meetings statewide to learn citizens' preferences for achieving deer management goals. The agency also sought citizen ideas through a survey, asking their opinion of five strategies for harvesting more female deer. Harvest restrictions based on antlers were most popular by a large margin.
Hunters should see pages 4 and 5 of the 2004 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Information guide for illustrated instructions on Antler-point Restrictions or check link it to the following web address: http://www.mdc.mo.gov/documents/hunt/dee....