A tradition that dates back thousands of years will be continued in just four days when archers across Missouri will set out in pursuit of white-tailed deer and wild turkey.
The 96-day split season will open Tuesday and continue through November 15.
Following an 11-day closure for the November segment of firearms deer season, archery season will reopen Nov. 27 and run through Jan. 15.
The challenge of harvesting a deer or turkey with a bow and arrow hasn't changed much over the years, but the equipment used and the regulations that apply continue to evolve.
In 1946, the first special archery season was held in Missouri. It was only three days long and hunters were limited to taking only bucks. The hunting was limited to Crawford County. Seventy-three archers using longbows and recurves failed to harvest even one deer. In fact, it would be five years -- in 1950 -- before the first deer would be taken during an archery season in Missouri.
Last year, slightly more than 95,000 archers took 26,165 deer. Of that total there were 11,364 does (43 percent), 3,369 button bucks (13 percent), and 11,062 antlered bucks (42 percent). That works out to a better than 27-percent success rate.
Prospects for the 2002 archery deer and turkey hunting season are bright. Strong deer populations in most counties, combined with liberal regulations, add up to ample opportunities for Missouri archers.
For this archery season, hunters are allowed to take two deer and two turkeys of either sex provided that only one antlered deer may be taken from Oct. 1 through Nov. 15. This means that you can take two archery deer prior to the November portion of firearms deer season but only one of them can be antlered.
You could take two antlerless deer or one antlerless and one antlered. An archer who is not successful prior to firearms season could take two deer of either sex during the second segment from Nov. 27 through Jan. 15.
Shooting hours for both deer and turkey are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. As in past years, archery deer and turkey must be checked at an established checking station within 24 hours of take.
Permits have a new look and an integral transportation tag. Immediately after harvest (but not before) separate the transportation tag from your permit and attach it to the game. Do not remove the protective backing from the rest of your permit. You will turn that portion in at the check station. Only the taker may possess and transport deer and turkey before checking.
Deer must be submitted, by the taker, with head attached; turkeys must be submitted with head attached and plumage intact.
Archers are required to wear a hat and shirt, vest or coat of hunter orange during the youth-only portion of the firearms deer season (Nov. 2 and 3). This requirement doesn't apply to archers hunting on federal or state hunting areas where deer hunting is restricted to archery methods only.
For additional information, consult the Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information pamphlet available from permit vendors statewide.
Gene Meyers is a Cape Girardeau County agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation