Building on a strong opening weekend harvest, Missouri hunters checked 167,205 deer during firearms deer season that ended Tuesday. The number exceeds last year’s harvest of 157,273.
The Missouri Department of Conservation reports the top harvest counties were Howell, with 3,418 deer checked; Franklin, with 3,338; and Texas, 3,170. The final week of the season was hampered by nasty weather that saw snow and rain fall, along with windy conditions.
This year’s harvest is 6 percent larger than last year’s figure and 10 percent below the previous five-year average for the November portion of firearms deer season. When adding the previous urban and early youth portions of this year’s firearms deer season, the year-to-date total is 185,890.
Twenty-five days of firearms deer hunting remain in the antlerless, alternative-methods and late youth portions of deer season. Archery deer season runs through Jan. 15.
The white-tailed deer is Missouri’s most popular game species and one of the most prolific, with an estimated population of more than one million free-ranging deer statewide. Missouri has nearly 520,000 deer hunters and almost two million wildlife watchers who enjoy deer.
Activities related to deer hunting and watching annually contribute $1 billion in economic activity to state and local economies and support more than 12,000 Missouri jobs. Many Missouri meat processors, taxidermists, hotels, restaurants, sporting goods stores, and other businesses rely on deer hunting as a significant source of revenue.
The Show-Me State’s white-tailed deer also helps feed needy Missourians through the Share the Harvest program, which brings together thousands of deer hunters, more than 130 participating meat processors, the conservation department, the Conservation Federation of Missouri and numerous supporting organizations to channel ground venison to tens of thousands of hungry Missouri families each year through donations to local food banks and food pantries. Since 1992, Missouri hunters have donated more than 3.1 million pounds of venison to the needy through the program.