Changes in deer hunting rules to go in effect for 2016

Lisa Applegate, 23, shoots a hunting rifle while getting ready for the upcoming hunting season. Applegate hasn't bagged any deer yet but said hopefully this year she will.

Lisa Applegate, 23, shoots a hunting rifle while getting ready for the upcoming hunting season. Applegate hasn’t bagged any deer yet but said hopefully this year she will.

By Austin Applegate

What do you do when deer hunting season comes around? There are some proposed deer hunting regulations for next year’s deer season, so you might want to take a look at the proposed and upcoming changes.

“There are four regulations that have already been approved by the conservation commission and four more regulations that are proposed but not yet approved,” said Francis Skalicky, Missouri Dept. of Conservation media specialist for the southwest region.

The proposed and approved regulations are taking affect because the state of Missouri thinks that doing so will be better than extending the season, Skalicky said. For example, because the deer population is starting to dwindle down just a little, it would be great for us to shorten the season and let the population get back to normal.

“The recent population is approximately 1.2 million deer in Missouri,” Skalicky said.

According to Skalicky, the approved changes effective next year are

  • 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, and
  • Eliminate the urban zones portion.

Other changes are still being considered, Skalicky said. They proposed changes are

  • 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, and
  • Remove the hunting method exemption requirement related to crossbows.

These hunting regulations will hopefully better control the deer population, Skalicky said.

Missouri hunting regulations have evolved a lot during the state’s history.

“The first game law pertaining to deer in Missouri was in 1851 when St. Louis County established a five-month season on deer, and The first state-wide deer regulation came in 1874 when the state legislature established a three-and-a-half month season on deer,” Skalicky said. “The first deer archery season was held in 1946. Deer hunting opportunities were gradually expanded until 1959 when the first state-wide firearms season was held.”

Getting hunting regulations changed takes more time than many may realize, Skalicky said.

“The process for regulation changes may seem short, but it can take quite a while,” Skalicky said. “The first thing to happen in the process is consideration on what people think. The second one is the regulation committee meets at least once or twice every ten years to approve or deny the proposed regulations. Then the third step is it goes to the director of conservation commission for approval.”

The public also gets a chance to influence the rules.

“Then comes the public comments,” Skalicky said, “and anyone can comment on the proposed changes.”

The conservation department cares about people’s opinions—both in favor or against the proposed changes, Skalicky said.

“Finally after this is done the secretary of state will deny or approve the regulations,” Skalicky said.

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