Missouri deer regulations to change in 2016

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COLUMBIA – The Missouri Department of Conservation has made new hunting regulations to the 2016-2017 deer and turkey seasons.

MDC is trying to find new ways to how the deer population in the state and think the new regulations will help do so.

Boone, Callaway, and other Mid-Missouri counties have seen their deer population drop as much as 35 percent during the last ten years. This decrease is due to hemorrhagic disease outbreaks, drought, and high doe harvests, according to a 2013-2014 Missouri Deer Season Summary and Population Status Report.

“The regulation changes for this coming year, the 2016 season, are due to maintaining and balancing desired deer populations as well as providing hunting opportunities,” MDC Deer Biologist Emily Flinn said.

Missouri Department of Conservation Deer Biologist Jason Sumners said on the department’s website that the deer population is decreasing.

“As deer populations in Missouri have changed over the last 75 years, so have our management strategies,” Sumners said. “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.”

20 years ago, MDC made changes to try and curtail an out-of-control deer population, and now those numbers are in need of balancing once again.

“We were looking for populations to decrease in some areas, however coupled with hemorrhagic disease or blue tongue in some areas that coupled with regulation changes 20 years ago allowed the deer population to decrease below desired levels,” Flinn said.

Despite the MDC saying these changes are necessary, many hunters are upset with the announced changes.

On the MDC Facebook page, commenters are complaining mostly about the changing of the antlerless deer portion dates, as well as adding crossbows to the legal weapons list.

Joe Edwards commented, “MDC claims to value public input...these regulations do not reflect what the public wants at all! You all have ensured that the deer population will continue to go down in the future. We'll be lucky to see a deer a few years from now. I USED TO BE a huge supporter of the MDC. These changes (crossbows, too many firearms seasons, etc.) have changed this. This is ridiculous!”

The changes include:

  • Reducing the length of antlerless portion from 12 to 3 days
  • Allow crossbows as a legal method during archery and deer and turkey seasons
  • Expanding the deer-hunting late youth portion to 3 days
  • Eliminate urban-zones portion of firearm season
  • Remove the hunting method exemption related crossbows
  • Reduce the limit of antlered deer from 3 to 2
  • Set the 2016 spring turkey season from April 18 – May 8 with a limit of 2 bearded birds
  • Set the 2016 youth spring season to April 9 and 10
  • Set the 2016 fall turkey season from Oct. 1 – 31 with a limit of 2 birds

The deer industry is worth about $1 billion in Missouri, with revenue raised from hunting permits, lodging and travel.