Voluntary testing for Chronic Wasting Disease will be available for the upcoming deer season, the Missouri Department of Conservation said. 

The Missouri Conservation Commission set season dates and limits for the 2016-’17 fall deer season and gave initial approval to several deer-hunting regulation changes proposed by the Missouri Department of Conservation at the commission’s Aug. 19 meeting in Jefferson City.

Approved changes to fall deer season structure include:

•Maintain current timing of the November portion and reduce the length from 11 to nine days.

•Expand the late youth portion to three days beginning the first Friday after Thanksgiving.

•Reduce the length of the antlerless portion from 12 to 3 days and begin on the first Friday in December.

•Eliminate the urban zones portion.

Proposed regulation changes to fall deer season structure include:

•Allow crossbows as a legal method during the archery deer and turkey seasons.

•Allow the use of crossbows during the fall firearms turkey season.

•Reduce the limit of antlered deer from 3 to 2 during the combined archery and firearms deer hunting season, with no more than one antlered deer taken during the firearms deer hunting season.

•Remove the hunting method exemption requirement related to crossbows.

Missouri’s rule-making process includes a 30-day public comment period. Comments related to the proposed regulation changes can be submitted online to the conservation department from Oct. 2-31 at mdc.mo.gov/node/24141. Full verbiage of the proposed amendments will be posted on the webpage after Sept. 15.

The commission will make its final decision on these proposed changes at its December meeting. With final approval, the regulation changes would become effective in March 2016 and implemented for the 2016-2017 deer hunting seasons.

MDC is also working to simplify conservation area deer-hunting regulations by limiting methods and use of firearms and archery antlerless permits. To see the list of conservation areas with proposed changes to hunting methods and to provide comments, visit the MDC website at mdc.mo.gov/node/18891 from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. The webpage will not be available until Sept. 1.

MDC will also continue to gather input from citizens on a variety of deer hunting-related topics, including nonresident permits and prices, through public surveys and its website in early 2016. 

When formulating recommendations for these regulation changes, the conservation department used deer hunter and landowner surveys, archery-hunter observation surveys, deer population simulations, biological data, harvest summaries and public input gathered from 22 public open houses held around the state and about 11,800 public comments received at the public meetings and online.

“The goal of the conservation department’s deer management program is to use science-based wildlife management combined with public input to maintain deer population levels throughout the state that provide quality recreational opportunities while minimizing human-deer conflicts,” said MDC Deer Biologist Jason Sumners. “As deer populations in Missouri have changed over the last 75 years, so have our management strategies. In modifying the hunting season structure, our aim is to achieve a deer population that is biologically and socially acceptable while also promoting hunter participation, recruitment, and retention.”

Missouri offers some of the best deer hunting in the country, and deer hunting is an important part of many Missourians’ lives and family traditions. Deer hunting is also an important economic driver in Missouri and gives a $1 billion annual boost to the state and local economies.

Archery Season

Sept. 15 – Nov. 11, 2016, and Nov. 21, 2016 – Jan. 15, 2017

Firearms Season

Early Youth Portion: Oct. 29 – 30, 2016

November Portion: Nov. 12 – 20, 2016

Late Youth Portion: Nov. 25 – 27, 2016

Antlerless Portion: Dec. 2 – 4, 2016

Alternative Methods Portion: Dec. 24, 2016 – Jan. 3, 2017

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