Wildlife biologists with the Missouri Department of Conservation warned hunters not to expect much from the firearms season.
But even they probably didn’t anticipate this much of a drop in harvest totals.
Hunters shot 157,224 deer in the 11-day season that ended Tuesday, a drop of 47,444 from last year. It was the lowest November firearms total since 1993, when hunters took 156,704 deer.
The reasons for this year’s decline were many and varied.
Widespread losses of deer due to an outbreak of hemorrhagic disease in 2012 were a major factor. Long-term declines in deer numbers in northwestern and north-central Missouri, partly due to increased availability of antlerless deer tags, also figured in.
Add a good acorn crop in the Ozarks, which kept the deer in the deep woods where they were less visible to hunters, and poor weather through much of the season, and you have the makings of the poorest season in some time.
Texas County led the state with 3,309 deer checked in. Howell was second with 3,292 and Oregon third with 3,227.
There were five firearms-related accidents, none of them fatal.
Metro counties also down
Counties in the Kansas City area shared the pain of the rest of the state during the Missouri firearms deer season.
Hunters shot 2,591 deer in Cass, Platte, Jackson and Clay Counties, down from 3,288 in 2012.
Cass led the way this year, with 1,007 deer checked in. Platte was second with 558, Jackson third with 538 and Clay fourth with 488.Antlerless deer season
For Missouri firearms deer hunters, this is no time to take a break.
The antlerless season opened Wednesday and will continue through Dec. 8 in designated counties.
Most of the counties north of Interstate 70 are open, in addition to selected counties south of that line. Go to mdc.mo.gov to view a map of the open counties.
The big show in Kansas
Kansas deer hunters are gearing up for their featured event, the firearms season.
The hunt opens Wednesday and will continue through Dec. 15. As usual, most hunters will be dreaming about trophy bucks when they go out.
Kansas has a reputation for its world-class hunting, with a quality herd that thrives on a steady food source and good genetics. Wildlife officials say the deer population is stable, with good numbers of trophy-sized bucks out there.