Young hunters checked 13,328 deer during the early portion of Missouri's youth firearms deer season Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, barely missing a record.
The first youth portion of the firearms deer season was in 2001, when hunters age 11 through 15 checked 6,277 deer.
The most ever taken during the two-day hunt was 13,466 in 2004.
Top counties statewide were Osage with 318 deer checked, Franklin with 295 and Callaway with 240.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, this year's early youth deer harvest is 28 percent larger than last year. That comes on the heels of an 83-percent increase in the number of deer killed during the four-day urban portion of firearms deer season compared to 2008.
Resource scientist Lonnie Hansen said two factors contributed to this year's strong urban and youth deer harvests.
One was weather. Cool conditions during both seasons favored increased deer movement, making the animals more visible to hunters.
Another factor in hunters' favor was the number of deer carried over from the 2008 hunting season.
"Last year we more than doubled the number of counties where the four-point rule applied," said Hansen. "That was sure to hold down the number of deer taken in the 36 counties where the rule was new."
Hansen noted that when the four-point rule went into effect in 2004, the deer harvest dropped 14 percent in the 29 affected counties. Over the following three years, the harvest in those counties rebounded, as surviving bucks grew larger antlers and became legal to shoot.
The Missouri Department of Conservation recorded one firearms-related deer hunting incident during the youth season.
A 9-year-old hunter in Knox County was walking to a hunting blind Nov. 1 when his .243-cal. rifle discharged, striking his 18-year-old brother in the leg. It was the third firearms-related hunting incident in the youth season's nine-year history.
One occurred in 2007, and one occurred in 2008.
Underway now is the November portion of firearms deer season, running from Nov. 14 through 24.
This portion normally accounts for approximately 80 percent of the state's firearms deer harvest.
Three other portions follow the November hunt. The antlerless portion runs from Nov. 25 through Dec. 6.
The muzzleloader portion is Dec. 19 through 29.
The final portion of the firearms season is the late firearms youth portion Jan. 2 and 3.
Missouri also has an archery deer season that opens Sept. 15 and closes Jan. 15, with an 11-day hiatus during the November firearms deer season.