Young hunters checked 1,772 deer during the final youth portion of Missouri's firearms deer season, bringing the year's youth harvest to 12,172 and the total firearms deer harvest to 238,319.
The 2008-2009 firearms deer hunting season was the first to offer two youth hunting segments of two days each. This year's youth harvest fell 95 short of last year's number, a decrease of less than 1 percent.
Top harvest counties during the late youth hunt were Macon, with 50 deer checked, Franklin with 42 and Osage with 38.
Missouri's first youth firearms deer hunt took place in 2001. Hunters checked 6,277 that year. The youth harvest peaked in 2004, when young hunters checked 13,466 deer. The only other year with a larger youth harvest than this year was 2007, when hunters checked 12,267 deer.
The January youth hunt brought Missouri's 2008-2009 firearms deer harvest to 238,819.
That is 21,343, (8.2 percent) fewer than the number of deer checked during the 2007 firearms deer season. The Missouri Department of Conservation attributes the decrease to several factors, including the implementation of minimum antler-point restrictions in 35 new counties, an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in some areas, difficult hunting conditions during some segments of the season and the success of long-term efforts to reduce deer numbers in some areas.
Sixty-three percent of deer harvested during the final youth segment Jan. 3 and 4 were does.
Seventeen percent were button bucks, and the remaining 20 percent were antlered deer.
The Conservation Department recorded one nonfatal firearms-related hunting accident during the first youth portion of firearms deer season and four nonfatal accidents during the November portion of firearms deer season.
This brings the number of accidents during 2008-2009 firearms deer season to five, one more than were recorded the past two years.