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Hunters get ready for fall seasons with education, safety course
Over the weekend, about 85 people participated in a hunter education certification course at the Conservation Nature Center in Cape Girardeau.
In addition to reviewing primary safety rules for firearms hunting and passing a certification test, there are some new guidelines from the Missouri Department of Conservation hunters will have to familiarize themselves with before the fall hunting seasons get underway.
When dove, snipe and rail season opens Sept. 1 -- it runs through Nov. 9. -- there will be new regulations at Maintz Wildlife Preserve in northwestern Cape Girardeau County, an area popular for dove hunting.
Last year, too many hunters came to harvest doves in the sunflower fields of the preserve during the opening days of the season, quickly depleting the population and causing safety concerns for the department, said Steve Moore, who retired in 2009 as a conservation officer and taught several sections of the hunter education course.
This year, hunting hours have been scaled back, running from 1 p.m. and sunset from Sept. 1 to Sept. 12. Starting Sept. 13, hunting will be allowed from sunrise to sunset until the end of the season. More acreage has also been added for hunting.
Hunting doves at the preserve requires an area daily hunting permit, obtained in the parking lots of the preserve, and a Migratory Bird Hunting Permit, available at any hunting permit vendor.
There are other regulations for dove season that hunters need to follow, Moore said. Hunters are required to pick up all used shells when hunting on Department of Conservation lands and observe limits on numbers of doves that can be harvested. A full list of regulations can be found at the department's website, www.mdc.mo.gov.
Cape Girardeau County conservation officer Russell Duckworth said hunters also need to be aware of new guidelines for bringing deer, elk and moose carcasses killed outside Missouri over state lines.
Missouri is one of several states that has recently adopted new guidelines to avoid chronic wasting disease, a neurological disease, in those populations, Duckworth said.
For the 2010 season, hunters bringing whole carcasses from out of state must make a report call to the Department of Conservation within 24 hours, and take the carcass to a licensed meat processor or taxidermist within 72 hours. Additional details can be found in the department's 2010 Fall Deer and Turkey regulations and information brochure.
Duckworth said Missouri has never had an instance of chronic wasting disease in a wild herd, but in 2009 the disease was found in one animal in a captive heard in northwest Missouri.
"We are keeping an eye out and trying to preserve the health of our deer population as much as we can," Duckworth said.
Moore said the state's rules on baiting is often a problem during deer season and many hunters don't realize they violate it.
Hunters are allowed to place bait for animals, but all traces of it must be gone 10 days before the start of the season.
If the deer rifle season begins Nov. 15, Moore explained, hunters will stop baiting an area Nov. 5. If bait remains when a conservation agent checks an area in a 10-day window, the regulation is violated, Moore said.
"The critical point is it has to be completely removed 10 days before the season," he said.
If the hunters want to let the bait be removed naturally, he said, they ought to stop baiting well before a season begins.
Upcoming hunting-related events in the area include a hunter education certification course on Oct. 8 and 9 at the Conservation Nature Center and a youth waterfowl wing shooting clinic Oct. 2 at Duck Creek Conservation Area.
Complete regulations for Missouri's hunting seasons can be found at www.mdc.mo.gov.