Saturday, Nov. 10, marked the opening day for rifle season across the state of Missouri. Fields and tree groves were spotted with blaze orange and the deer were up and running as thousands of hunters took to their stands in hopes of killing the “monster” buck.
Deer hunting is typically a tradition that is passed down through families and is often shared with close friends.
“Hunting is a very traditional thing, it is a family-oriented sport and those traditions run very deep for family ties and friends,” said Gene Gardner, an avid deer hunter from Centralia, Mo.
Gardner worked for the Missouri Department of Conservation for 34 years and recently retired from his career. Adamant about keeping the sport alive, Gardner has passed the custom down to his children.
“It’s nice to see the tradition being passed down to grandchildren as it is a tradition that is slipping away with so many distractions in today’s world,” Gardner said.
There are not as many hunters as there once were, but the deer population continues to thrive.
Missouri is home to 1.2 million deer. On average, the Missouri Department of Conservation projects that one-third of the population will be harvested, however, this goal is not always met. The Department of Conservation reported a great youth season with more than 20 thousand deer harvested.
“In the beginning, I’m out for a big buck, but towards the end if it’s brown it’s down,” said MU freshman, John Anderson.
Hunters feared that the warm weather and outbreak of blue tongue, a deadly disease in which the tongue swells up making it impossible to eat, would effect this year’s hunting season, but it proved to be the opposite.
Opening weekend brought in a total of 89,728 deer harvested across the state of Missouri. Out of those deer 35,185 were does, 11,772 were button bucks and 42,771 were bucks. The top counties bringing in the biggest harvest included Howell with 1,702, Macon with 1,617, and Texas County with 1,588.
The opening weekend harvest was successful for the state, and thousands more deer will continue to be harvested as the season continues on.
By Gina Olsen
Corner Post Staff Writer