Payton, left, and Richard Gunter with deer killed during the recently completed fall deer season.

Texas County finished first in Missouri in the statewide fall deer season that ended Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Conservation said.

Hunters in the county killed 4,043 deer, which was up 171 from last year. Texas County claimed the championship by only two: Callaway County followed with 4,041. Third in the state was Oregon County with 3,995.

Statewide, the kill declined by more 21,000. The Missouri Department of Conservation said the tally was 214,493. In 2006, the count was 235,409.

The breakdown in Texas County: antlered bucks, 1,823; button bucks, 529; and 1,691 does.

Earlier: Missouri’s rifle season for deer hunting will end Tuesday with the harvest numbers expected to be down in the state from a year ago, the Missouri Conservation Department said.

The official count stood at 209,705 on Tuesday morning. Last year hunters took 235,409 deer during the 10-day season statewide.

The first weekend of deer season saw 100,489 checked.

Texas County hunters killed 3,951 deer through Tuesday morning, exceeding last year’s total kill of 3,872, said the Missouri Department of Conservation. The breakdown: Bucks, 1,795; button bucks, 516; and does, 1,640. Callaway County is narrowly ahead of Texas in the bid to finish first in the state. It’s tally stood at 3,976.

While the weather was delightful for much of the season, those factors worked against deer hunters.

“Hunting conditions were not wonderful,” said Lonnie Hansen, a resource scientist with the agency. Hansen said that although warm weather encourages some hunters to stay in the woods longer, deer already have their winter coats at this time of year and don’t move around looking for food as much as they do in cold weather. A deer that is bedded down is harder for hunters to find, and it is more likely to detect the presence of hunters than if it is moving around looking for something to eat.”

Timing is part of the reason for the weather being warmer than usual during the November firearms deer hunt. The season ended before Thanksgiving Day, which falls as early as possible this year.

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