Most people viewed the weekend as a great time to stay inside.
Not Missouri deer hunters.
Despite temperatures in the 20s, periods of snow and bitter wind chills, they enjoyed a memorable opening weekend of the firearms season.
Hunters shot 91,460 deer Saturday and Sunday, the highest total since 2010. That year, they checked in 97,856 whitetails during the season’s first two days.
Even more impressive, this year’s total was 30,000 higher than last year’s opening-weekend kill.
Why the big jump? Wildlife biologists credited the winter-like weather that had the deer on the move.
“We had near-perfect hunting conditions,” said Vicki Heidy, resource science supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation. “With the cold, the deer were moving. And the snow cover made the deer visible.
“The hunting conditions were considerably better than we had on opening weekend the last couple years. Our hunters saw a lot of deer.”
Franklin County in east-central Missouri was the state leader with 1,839 deer checked in. Callaway, in the central part of the state, was third with 1,791 deer registered.
Howell County in the deep Ozarks ranked second with 1,793. Other Ozark counties also fared well.
In the Kansas City area, Cass was the top county with 642 deer checked in. Platte was second with 279, Jackson third with 273 and Clay fourth with 247.
The opening-weekend success came as particularly good news to hunters after a disappointing 2013 season. Deer numbers were down last year after a deadly outbreak of hemorrhagic disease and the cumulative effects of liberal hunting regulations in some parts of the state.
Wildlife officials anticipated a season only slightly improved from last year. But with the fast start, that outlook has changed.
There were three accidents reported, with two resulting in fatalities. One occurred in Ste. Genevieve County, when a heater in a hunting blind exploded, killing the hunter. Another took place in Phelps County, when a hunter fell from a tree stand and was killed.
The firearms season continues through Nov. 25.
To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.