Hunters in Missouri set a record for the opening weekend of firearms deer season.
As of midnight Sunday, hunters reported taking 133,136 deer statewide, which is up from 127,251 during opening weekend last year, said Jeff Barringer, a research scientist in Columbia with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
There were 1,392 deer harvested in Boone County during the weekend compared to 1,559 last year.
New regulations this year in Boone and 28 other counties outlaw killing deer with fewer than four points on at least one side of their antlers. The Conservation Department said it hopes the new law will encourage hunters to take more does this year and increase the number of larger bucks.
Barringer said it would be weeks before the department could compare the number of bucks and does harvested and determine the effectiveness of the new rules.
In the meantime, reports were mixed from local stores that serve as check stations.
Michele Curtis at Blue Acres on South Ponderosa Street in Columbia didn’t have any hard numbers, but she said buck numbers were down.
“There haven’t been as many bucks this year because of the new antler restrictions,” she said.
But James Heuer, owner of Heuer’s Country Store & Café on Old Highway 63 in northern Boone County had an opposite observation.
“Seems to me that we’ve seen a lot more bucks than usual,” he said.
Heuer said 553 deer were checked in at his store over the weekend.
The firearms deer season runs through Nov. 23.
Two nonfatal hunting accidents were reported during opening weekend. Both accidents were in the Kansas City area.