The woods will fill with hunter orange Saturday as the start of the fall firearms season begins across the state. Hunters flock to the county, which annually is one of the top deer producing areas in the state.
The season runs through Nov. 25 and draws hunters from across the state, providing an economic boost to the region.
Last year, 4,043 deer were killed in the county – the most in Missouri.
The Missouri Department of Conservation said Monday that it expects this year’s harvest to be “average.” Corn and acorns play an important role in this year’s firearms deer season, the department said. The hard freeze in April 2007 virtually eliminated this year’s crop of acorns from red oak trees, whose nuts mature the year after they are set. As a result, the availability of acorns will be spotty. Acorns are a mainstay food for deer in southern Missouri. In years like this, when red oaks produce few or no acorns, deer are much likely to be found near white oaks. That makes hunting easier.
Weather also is a wild card: Many hunters hesitate to shoot deer in unseasonably warm weather because of spoilage problems. On the other hand, unusually cold or wet weather keeps hunters out of the woods.
Some other notes:
*The large portion of the deer tag must be attached to the animal after telechecking it. Transporting without the tag is illegal.
*The department also is asking deer hunters to report any sick wild turkeys. Many reports have come from northern Missouri. The suspected cause is “blackhead,” a parasite problem. Their wings and eyelids droop, and they often hold their heads near their bodies. Their droppings sometimes are sulfur-yellow instead of white. The disease may stem from unusually rainy weather and mosquitoes. To report a sighting, call 573-883-9880 to give a location and a description of the sick bird’s behavior and appearance.