Regular firearm deer season comes to a close

Saturday, December 10, 2016

This past weekend, orange clad hunters were out searching for does as this was the end of regular firearm deer season. The antlerless portion of the deer season was limited to just three days this year.

The firearm alternative methods portion is set for Dec. 24 through Jan. 3, 2017. Meanwhile archers may continue through Jan. 15 to hunt deer and turkey. More than 40 southern counties were not open during the antlerless portion of the deer season. Some counties and county sections were closed to firearm hunting during this portion of deer season. The antlerless portion is limited by county based on general deer numbers in those counties. For the closed counties the MDC is trying to increase the deer numbers. Remaining counties had limits on the number of firearm antlerless deer hunting permits that hunters could fill during the special season (all portions combined).

There are various opinions about having an antlerless season. Larry Whitely, host of the Outdoor World radio show, had tips for doe hunters he stated, "Many hunters continue to resist antlerless deer hunting believing that it harms deer herds and buck hunting. Some think it is unethical or sportsmen like. Others are too macho to take anything but a buck even if it is a small buck. Let me argue those points by saying that wildlife managers will tell you doe hunting is the best way to check herd growth and prevent over population that can harm an entire herd.

If does aren't taken, they are doomed to eventual waste as a natural resource. Hunting strategies for doe hunters differ very little from buck hunters. If you continue to take little bucks, you will never get a chance at a trophy buck. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed or let peer pressure keep you from hunting does, it is important to the overall success of deer hunting. "

Remembering when I first started to hunt deer, a farmer who was a friend of the family told me I could hunt on his property, but not to shoot any does. Several years later, he had changed his mind and welcomed me to take a doe. I remember him telling me his neighbor was a deer hunter and had informed him does are better tasting, easier to bag and it doesn't hurt the population. He then told me, "As long as its legal, you may take any deer on my property."

Of course a big buck may look good mounted on the wall, but you can't eat those antlers. I know if I have deer that's been eating from a corn field it is both bucks and does that participate.

Rod Hendricks. a veteran deer hunter, said, "I hunted during the November portion, but didn't shoot a deer. When the antlerless portion opened, I shot a doe so that we would have venison to make jerky and other good things. I believe that taking does is a good way to keep the deer herd in check."

Recently, Kent Lippincott showed me a doe mount between two bucks on his wall. He said his daughter was in high school and interested in taxidermy. She wanted to work on mounting the doe and it turned out very good. Recalling, "It was the last day of the firearm season and the only chance I had to get a deer. Since I hadn't seen anything but does, I took this one. It turned out to be one of the best eating deer I ever shot."

During the November portion of the firearm season hunters took more than 88,000 antlerless deer of the 185,062 total.

During the three-day Dec. 2-4 antlerless season Missouri hunters harvested 6,491 deer. The antlerless portion was reduced this year 2016 from 12 days to just three days this last fall.

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