Firearms portion of Missouri deer hunting season begins
Sunday, November 11, 2007
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- As the firearms portion of the state's deer hunting season opened this weekend, a state biologist says most of the state's herd looks healthy, despite disease and a scarcity of a favorite food source.
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease might have thinned the herd in some southern parts of the state. The disease, which is carried by the biting midge fly, dehydrates the infested animal, killing it within 24 hours.
The disease is not believed to hurt humans, and biologist Bill Heatherly, a wildlife programs supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said the majority of the state's herd still looks good.
Heatherly also said the lack of white oak acorns, a favorite food source that was killed off by a spring freeze, could make it easier for hunters to find deer.
Wildlife biologists estimate that Missouri has more than 1 million whitetail deer.
As of Friday afternoon, 320,000 permits had been sold to firearms hunters in Missouri.
Dean Zeiler, a St. Joseph hunter who participates in the archery and firearm seasons, already killed a buck during the first half of the archery season. He was planning to spend Saturday -- opening day for firearms season -- with cousins on land south of Kansas City near Butler, Mo.
"I see more and more deer every year," said Zeiler, who has hunted deer for about 25 years.
The firearms portion of the deer season runs through Nov. 20.
More than 120,000 deer were killed during last year's opening weekend. Over the course of the 10-day hunt, about 235,000 deer were taken.
Hunters in Benton County -- a heavily wooded area of the Lake of the Ozarks -- took the most deer in the state during the 2006 opening weekend, with a total of 2,621.