Firearms deer season this year will open earlier than ever in Boone County.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has set up an early season for firearms hunters from Oct. 8-11 in Boone and 11 other urban counties — more than a month earlier than the traditional firearms season.
“It will give hunters the opportunity to get more deer,” said Lonnie Hansen, a research scientist in Columbia with the conservation department.
“It’s one of the times when we can identify the bucks from the does,” said Tom Strother, a regional supervisor for protection with the conservation department. “The bucks still have velvet on their antlers and they are very identifiable, so hunters should not hunt bucks in October.”
Lee Brandkamp, owner of Powder Horn Guns and Sporting Goods, said the weather will have a bearing on whether hunters take advantage of the early season in October.
“I can’t say if hunters are excited about does-only season in October,” Brandkamp said. “If it’s warm out, people probably will not hunt; if the weather is nice out and it’s cold, they will hunt.”
To deal with Missouri’s overpopulation of deer, archers and firearms hunters in Boone County will be allowed to harvest an unlimited number of antlerless deer this year if they purchase the required permits. That’s the same arrangement as last year.
Boone County hunters with a firearms any-deer permit are allowed to kill an unlimited number of antlerless deer. Hunters can also buy as many bonus tags as they want this season for antlerless deer at a lower price than previous years: $7 each.
Firearms hunters can take no more than one antlered deer during the entire fall season, and there’s an important new rule this year on the harvesting of bucks. Hunters in Boone and 28 other counties will not be allowed to harvest bucks unless they have at least four points on at least one side of their antlers.
“Antler-point restrictions are not just about growing bigger bucks,” the conservation department says on its Web page, adding that the restrictions “have been shown to be a valuable and well-accepted tool to increase doe harvest. Deer hunter support for antler-point restrictions has grown rapidly in states that have implemented this tool.”
Strother said the goal of unlimited hunting of antlerless deer is to reduce deer problems such us crop or garden damage and vehicle accidents.
The firearms deer hunting season is comprised of five portions that provide hunters with many opportunities: the Oct. 8-11 firearms season; Nov. 6-7 for youth only, ages 6 to 15; the main firearms season Nov. 13-23; a Nov. 26-Dec. 5 season for muzzleloaders; and a Dec. 11-19 firearms season for antlerless deer only.
The pilot regulations will be evaluated for three to five years. Surveys will measure hunter and landowner attitudes throughout the trial, and biological data on the status of the herd will be collected each year. Adjustments will be made if needed.