Season isn't over for empty-handed deer hunters

Friday, November 29, 2002

So you didn't take one of the 15,183 deer checked in the Missouri Department of Conservation Southeast Region during the November portion of Missouri's firearms deer season. That doesn't necessarily mean your hunting season is over.

You can't get a refund for the unfilled "tag," but you do get another opportunity to fill it. The nine day muzzleloader segment of firearms deer hunting season begins Saturday, Dec. 7 and continues through Sunday, Dec. 15.

Last year "muzzleloaders" harvested 8,662 deer statewide. That was an increase of 3,847 from the 2000 season (a 78 percent increase). This large increase was unexpected given the slowly increasing deer harvest during the Muzzleloader portion in previous years. Good weather, excellent deer populations and perhaps a significant jump in participation may explain the increase. We expect participation in the Muzzleloader portion to increase, but hunting activity should continue to be low relative to the November portion.

The 16 counties that comprise the Southeast Region contributed 701 deer to the 2001 total. Ste. Genevieve County led the way with 138 deer checked. St. Francois County was next with 96, followed by Butler County with 70 deer checked. Other "southeast" county totals: Iron and Wayne counties checked 61 deer each; Bollinger (55); Perry (48); Madison (33); Stoddard (32); Reynolds (30); Cape Girardeau (22); Scott (18); Mississippi (15); New Madrid (13); Dunklin (6); and Pemiscot (3).

Enough history for you? Well, let's turn to regulations that apply to Muzzleloader hunting in Missouri. If you usually hunt during the November portion, then much of this will be familiar to you. However there are a few differences between the two portions.

Shooting hours for Muzzleloaders is the same as for the November portion. They are: one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset local time.

Hunter-orange requirements apply to all muzzleloader hunters. They are required to wear a hat and shirt, vest or coat of hunter orange (also known as daylight fluorescent orange or blaze orange) so the color is plainly visible from all sides while being worn. Camouflage orange does not satisfy this requirement.

One of the differences between the November portion and the muzzleloader portion is that archers and small-game hunters are not required to comply with hunter-orange requirements during the muzzleloader portion.

With regard to tagging and checking requirements: Anyone who kills a deer must immediately validate the harvest by separating the transportation tag from their permit and attaching it to the game. The transportation tag must remain attached until the animal has been checked by the taker at an established checking station. Only the taker may possess and transport deer before checking at an established checking station.

Once again, that is the same for both portions. The difference in checking procedures for muzzleloaders is that instead of being required to check their deer on the date taken in the county of harvest (or an adjoining county) they may check their deer at any established checking station within 24 hours of take.

As you might well assume, the type of firearm used is somewhat restricted during muzzleloader season. Hunters are limited to a muzzleloading or cap-and-ball firearm .40 caliber or larger and capable of firing only a single projectile at one discharge; in-lines and scopes are allowed.

Multiple barreled muzzleloading or cap-and-ball firearms and/or muzzleloading or cap-and-ball handguns are allowed and may be carried in addition to a muzzleloading or cap-and-ball rifle, but must be .40 caliber or larger.

For complete regulations, consult MDC's Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting brochure. The publication is available from permit vendors statewide.

You may choose to go traditional and wear buckskin clothing while carrying a flintlock. Or you may opt to go more modern and choose an in-line rifle with stainless steel barrel and graphite stock. Either way, you will have an opportunity to pursue deer at a more relaxed pace than during the November portion.

Gene Myers is an agent for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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