Want a glimpse at what the Missouri deer season will look like in the future?
Wildlife biologists with the Missouri Department of Conservation provided that picture Wednesday in a Conservation Commission meeting.
They outlined changes that will reduce season length, cut limits and add one new weapon to the hunters’ arsenal for the 2016-17 season.
▪ The statewide firearms season will be reduced from 11 days this year to 9 days in 2016. That will translate to a Nov. 12-20 season in 2016.
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▪ The antlerless season will be cut from 12 days to 3 in 2016. Season dates will be Dec. 2-4.
▪ The urban zones will be eliminated.
▪ The combined limit for antlered deer during the firearms and archery season will be reduced from three to two.
▪ A measure will allow all hunters to use crossbows during the fall archery deer and turkey seasons.
The measures were unanimously passed by the Conservation Commission. But they won’t become final until a mandatory comment period takes place Oct. 2-31.
The cuts were made in response to declines seen in the Missouri deer herd the last two years. The combined effects of disease and years of liberal hunting regulations contributed to the declines, especially in northern Missouri.
“We went through a time when seasons were set when deer populations were growing rapidly,” said Jason Sumners, a deer biologist for the Department of Conservation. “Now, we’re looking at a time when deer numbers are either stable or declining in much of the state.
“That’s why we have to make changes.”
The major dates for this year’s deer season, set earlier, will be Nov. 14-24 for the statewide firearms segment; Nov. 25-Dec. 6 for the antlerless segment; and Sept. 15-Nov. 13 and Nov. 25-Jan. 15 for the archery segment.
Duck seasons set
The Missouri Conservation Commission also approved staff recommendations for the 2015-16 duck season Wednesday.
Season dates will remain similar to recent years.
▪ NORTH ZONE: Oct. 31-Dec. 29.
▪ MIDDLE ZONE: Nov. 7-Jan. 5.
▪ SOUTH ZONE: Nov. 26-Jan. 24.
“These are the good old days for duck hunters,” said waterfowl biologist Any Raedeke. “We have a record number of ducks this year.
“But our hunting seasons are usually determined by habitat and the timing of the flights. We have the water on our managed areas, but the floods wiped out a lot of our row crops.
“We have fairly good moist-soil food on many of our areas, but we’ll have to see how the lack of crops affects things.”