JEFFERSON CITY - A break in the weather helped Missouri hunters bag 14,656 deer Jan. 6 through Jan. 9, boosting the firearms deer season total to an all-time high of 220,636.
Hunters set harvest records in all three segments of the season. The January deer kill topped last year^s by 953. The 201,165 deer bagged in November was 25,240 more than last season. Hunters checked 4,815 deer during the December muzzleloader portion of the season. That is up 723 from 1999.
The January increase came as no surprise to Missouri Department of Conservation Wildlife Research Biologist Lonnie Hansen.
"This January we had ideal conditions for taking deer," Hansen said. "During harsh conditions like we had in December, deer tend to concentrate and not be very active. Just before the January portion the weather broke. The deer began to move around, and the snow on the ground made it easier for hunters to find deer."
Northeast Missouri led regional totals with 5,851 deer checked. The northwest region harvest of 4,703 was second, followed by 3,170 in the central region. The remaining regional totals were St. Louis with 425, Kansas City with 409, west-central with 75 and the east-central region with 23.
The Conservation Department received no reports of firearms-related deer hunting accidents during the January Extension.
Of the state^s 59 management units, only 23 in the northern half of the state were open to deer hunting in January. The season was created to help reduce the number of does in management units where deer populations are above target levels set by the Conservation Department. In setting those targets, the department must balance some people^s desire for more deer with increased frequency of deer-related traffic accidents and the wishes of people whose crops, trees and shrubs sustain increased damage with higher deer numbers.
Hansen said the department will use deer harvest data to assess the effectiveness of the January Extension in removing female deer from the population. The assessment also will help the Conservation Department determine whether many bucks that have lost antlers are being harvested.
Missouri^s total deer harvest for the 2000-2001 hunting season won^t be known until after the archery deer season ends Jan. 15. The archery kill typically is a little more than 20,000 deer annually.
- Arleasha Mays -