Hunting seasons are popping up like spring mushrooms. Starting this month, rabbit and turkey seasons opened and the statewide archery deer and turkey season started last month as quietly as an arrow cruises through a misty autumn morning.
The duck season opened in the north zone for the youth portion last weekend with the usual fanfare while the rabbit season that opened on Oct. 1, was barely noticed, although their numbers are up slightly.
The prospects of a good fall hunting season in Missouri and other states has optimism running high. Fall turkey hunters have found lots of birds between rains, squirrel hunters have more targets than in past years and the deer population is high.
The waterfowl seasons should be very good with forecasts of more ducks heading south than in past years. The goose population, especially snow and blue geese, have become a nuisance. The hunting opportunities are at a high level, an obvious reflection of the health of game animals and birds.
Meanwhile, archery hunting is the passion of those for whom solitude is a treasure. The number of archery deer hunters continues to grow.
There's just no need for the customary hullabaloo created by the gun season, the archers say. Their season opened on Sept. 15 and the bow hunters were ready. The population of deer in the state is high and the success rate is also high.
Bob Roberts, Springfield, said, "Archery season is so different from the gun season. It's more like pure hunting. It's a real challenge. You have to understand the ways of the animals. You have to prepare yourself and practice with your bow. Not many bow hunters just grab a bow for the first time in a year and head for the woods."
Apparently, too, the rewards are great because archery hunting has grown substantially over the past few years. Bow hunters traditionally take more bucks than does, a departure from gun-hunting statistics. The bucks are on the move during the rut and their thoughts are on matters other than camouflaged observers in trees.
Roberts said, "A lot of bow hunters prefer the archery season to the gun season because of the safety factor. There's no question that it is safer and I know I feel more at ease. The gun season, especially the first weekend, definitely makes me nervous."
Archers are out there during some of the best weather of the fall and there is no need to hunt in bad weather if you don't have to, unlike the short gun season.
Roberts went on to say, "I get out as often as I can for the next few months. This is the time of the cold dinners at home, but my wife understands that I won't be home until it's dark on a lot of evenings. I hunt close to where I work, so I can stop for a few hours on the way home. You can't beat it."
The bottom line, according to Roberts, is being out there, relaxing, unwinding, watching and getting to enjoy nature. Some bow hunters, naturally enough, are just plain hunters; meaning they take the seasons as they come, using the bow, then the gun and then the bow again.
That aside, the rise in bow hunting for deer seems to be the most dramatic change in the deer hunting habits in the state. Just three years ago, in 2006, archers harvested more than 40,000 deer, something that never seemed possible when the first season opened back in the 1940s.
It is wise to be on the lookout for deer this time of the year. The deer mating season or "rut" is here. During the rut, the urge to mate increases deer activity and may interfere with their normal reaction to run from approaching vehicles, improving your chances of involvement in a deer-vehicle collision.