Harvest total is a new record, surpassing one set in 2006.
Missouri's 2023-2024 deer-hunting season ended Jan. 15 with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reporting a preliminary record-setting total deer harvest for the season of 326,026. This year’s new harvest record surpasses the one set in 2006 of 325,457.
Of the deer harvested, 147,705 were antlered bucks, 29,060 were button bucks, and 149,261 were does. Top harvest counties for the overall deer season were Franklin with 7,395, Howell with 6,346, and Texas with 6,181.
Hunters harvested 299,719 deer during the 2022-2023 deer hunting season with 140,735 being antlered bucks, 27,028 being button bucks, and 131,956 being does.
Deer hunting ended with the close of the archery season. Preliminary data from MDC showed that hunters checked 55,396 deer during the 2023-2024 archery deer season. Top counties for the archery deer season were Jefferson with 1,440, Franklin with 1,194, and St. Louis with 1,022. Hunters checked 56,683 deer during the 2022-2023 archery deer season.
According to MDC, increasing deer numbers and regulation changes that added a new early antlerless firearms portion, a new chronic wasting disease (CWD) firearms portion, and an increase in the number of firearms antlerless deer hunting permits in most counties led to additional hunting opportunities and contributed to a record harvest.
“With deer numbers increasing in most counties, additional antlerless deer harvest is needed to slow population growth and help maintain deer numbers at desired levels,” said MDC Cervid Program Supervisor Jason Isabelle. “It was great to see hunters take advantage of the additional hunting opportunities.”
According to MDC, this year was the first since 2013 that more does were harvested than antlered bucks.
“Prior to the severe hemorrhagic disease outbreak in 2012 that reduced deer numbers and resulted in regulation changes to reduce antlerless harvest, doe harvest exceeded antlered buck harvest each year for about a decade,” said Isabelle. “Now that the deer population has rebounded and regulations have been liberalized, it’s nice to see the much-needed increase in antlerless harvest given our desire to slow the growth of the increasing deer population to maintain deer numbers at socially acceptable levels.”
According to MDC, this year’s antlered buck harvest is also the highest on record. Isabelle attributed this increase primarily to the new CWD portion of firearms deer season that was open in CWD Management Zone counties.
“Hunters play a major role in helping to manage CWD and increasing the harvest of both bucks and antlerless deer in the CWD Management Zone will help reduce the spread of the disease,” said Isabelle.
Isabelle noted that increasing deer numbers, changes in hunter preferences, and removal of the antler-point restriction (APR) in counties that enter the CWD Management Zone have also contributed to an increasing antlered buck harvest trend over the past decade.
For deer harvest totals by season, county, and type of deer, visit the MDC website at extra.mdc.mo.gov/widgets/harvest_table/.
For deer harvest summaries from past years, visit mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/deer/deer-reports/deer-harvest-summaries.
MDC reported one non-fatal, archery-related deer hunting incident and no firearms-related hunting incidents during the deer season.