The Missouri Department of Conservation said 11,967 deer were killed during the alternative-methods portion of the Missouri firearms season.

Hunters checked 11,967 deer during the alternative-methods portion of Missouri’s firearms deer season Dec. 21-31. That figure is 20 percent fewer than in 2012.

Top counties for the alternative-methods portion were Oregon, with 437 deer checked, Howell with 360 and Shannon with 298. The count in Texas County was 258: 48 bucks, 37 button bucks and 173 does.

Resource Scientist Emily Flinn with the Missouri Department of Conservation said the decrease was expected.

“The decrease in alternative-methods harvest is close to the declines in this years’ November and antlerless portions,” said Flinn. “The decrease in this year’s total harvest statewide is primarily a result of a reduction in deer numbers that resulted from continued doe harvest, last year’s widespread outbreak of hemorrhagic diseases and record-low acorn production.”

Flinn said reduced deer numbers will be one factor considered by the conservation department’s regulations committee when developing recommendations for 2014 deer-hunting regulations.

“We continually consider regulation changes, including reducing the availability of antlerless permits and the antlerless portion of firearms deer season in places where regulation changes are necessary to allow the population to recover,” said Flinn.

The alternative methods portion replaced the muzzleloader portion of firearms deer season in 2012. Hunters are allowed to use muzzle-loading firearms, center-fire pistols, air-powered guns, bows, crossbows or atlatls during the alternative-methods hunt.

The last firearms deer season was Jan. 4-5. Archery deer season runs through Jan. 15.

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