Ava Koch with a deer she killed during the youth season. 

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. 20 and draws hunters from across the state, providing an economic boost to the region as motels and restaurants fill up and convenience stores and gas stations are busy.

Last year, 4,374 deer were killed in the county — the second highest only to Howell County in Missouri.

There also will be additional dates to kill a deer, the Missouri Department of Conservation said. They are: late youth portion, Nov. 23-25; anterless, Nov. 30-Dec. 2; and alternative methods, Dec. 22-Jan. 1.

Voluntary CWD sampling statewide all season

MDC continues to offer free voluntary chronic wasting disease CWD sampling and testing of deer harvested anywhere in the state throughout the entire deer hunting season. Hunters can also get free test results for their deer online. Find locations and more information at mdc.mo.gov/cwd under “Voluntary CWD Sampling All Season.”

CWD is an infectious and deadly illness for white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family, called cervids. There have been no known cases of CWD infecting people, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends having deer tested for CWD if harvested in an area known to have cases of the disease.

MDC will be conducting mandatory CWD sampling of deer harvested in 31 of the 48 counties of its CWD Management Zone during the opening weekend. The counties are: Adair, Barry, Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Cedar, Cole, Crawford, Franklin, Grundy, Hickory, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Madison, McDonald, Mercer, Moniteau, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren and Washington.

Share the Harvest program

MDC and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) encourage deer hunters around the state to share their harvests through the state’s Share the Harvest program (STH). Administered by MDC and CFM, Share the Harvest coordinates the efforts of thousands of deer hunters, numerous participating meat processors, many local supporting organizations, and statewide sponsors to help feed hungry Missourians.

The program works by deer hunters donating their extra venison — from several pounds to whole deer — to participating meat processors throughout the state who grind and package the deer meat. The packaged venison is then given to local food banks and food pantries for distribution to Missourians in need of food assistance. Processing fees are covered entirely or in part by numerous program sponsors.

Get more information in MDC’s 2018 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold, and online at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/deer/deer-share-harvest

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