Introduction to MDC Deer Season 2023
Missouri is known for its rich hunting heritage and abundant wildlife, and one of the most anticipated events for hunters in the state is the MDC Deer Season. This season provides an opportunity for hunters to pursue white-tailed deer, one of the most sought-after game species in Missouri. However, it is important to remember that hunting regulations and safety measures are in place to ensure the sustainability of the deer population and the safety of hunters. In this article, we will explore the hunting regulations and requirements in Missouri, as well as provide tips and techniques for successful hunting and staying safe in the field.
Understanding the Hunting Regulations and Requirements
Before heading out into the field, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the hunting regulations in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) sets these regulations to manage the deer population and ensure a sustainable harvest. Some of the key regulations include bag limits, hunting seasons, and permit requirements.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC has implemented several changes to the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance and Management Plan for the 2023-24 deer season. These changes are aimed at managing the deer population to satisfy both hunters and wildlife viewers and to prevent the spread of CWD.
In response to increasing deer numbers in the CWD Management Zone and areas outside of it, the MDC has revised deer hunting regulations. The 2023-24 deer season regulation changes include the addition of a new firearms early antlerless portion, a new firearms CWD portion, and alterations to firearms antlerless permit numbers in most counties.
Here's a breakdown of the key changes for the 2023-24 deer season:
Deer Season Dates:
Archery Deer and Turkey Hunting: Sept. 15 to Nov. 10, 2023, and Nov. 22 to Jan. 15, 2024
New: Firearms Early Antlerless Portion: Oct. 6-8 (in open counties)
Firearms Early Youth Portion: Oct. 28-29
Firearms November Portion: Nov. 11-21
New: Firearms CWD Portion: Nov. 22-26 (in open counties)
Firearms Late Youth Portion: Nov. 24-26
Firearms Late Antlerless Portion: Dec. 2-10 (in open counties)
Firearms Alternative Methods Portion: Dec. 23 – Jan. 2, 2024
The new firearms early antlerless portion aims to provide additional hunting opportunities and increase antlerless deer harvest before the November firearms season.
Reynolds County will be open for both the early and late antlerless portions of firearms deer season.
Firearms CWD Portion:
The CWD portion of firearms deer season will be open in all counties within the CWD Management Zone. This portion is designed to occur during the primary rut, providing additional hunting opportunities to stabilize deer numbers and minimize CWD spread.
Changes to Firearms Antlerless Permit Numbers:
The number of firearms antlerless permits hunters can fill has been adjusted in most counties, with some counties allowing hunters to fill multiple permits based on the deer population.
Changes to Resident Landowner Firearms Antlerless Permit Numbers:
Qualifying resident landowners in certain counties will be eligible to receive resident landowner firearms antlerless deer hunting permits for the 2023-24 season.
These changes are part of MDC's efforts to manage the deer population, prevent the spread of CWD, and provide hunting opportunities. For specific details about counties open or closed for each portion of the deer season, as well as permit numbers in different counties, please refer to the official MDC regulations for the 2023-24 deer season.
Choosing the Right Hunting Gear and Equipment
Having the right gear and equipment is essential for a successful and enjoyable hunting experience. Some of the essential items include a firearm or bow, ammunition or arrows, appropriate clothing, boots, binoculars, a backpack, and a knife for field dressing.
When selecting your gear, it is important to consider factors such as the type of hunting you will be doing, the terrain you will be hunting in, and the weather conditions. For example, if you plan to hunt from a tree stand, a lightweight and portable climbing stand may be the best option. On the other hand, if you plan to still hunt or spot-and-stalk, a comfortable and durable pair of boots is crucial.
Proper maintenance and care of your gear is also important. Regularly inspect your equipment for any signs of wear or damage, and make any necessary repairs or replacements. Keep your firearms clean and well-oiled, and ensure your bow is properly tuned. Taking care of your gear will not only prolong its lifespan but also ensure its reliability when you need it most.
Scouting for Deer: Tips and Techniques
Scouting for deer is an essential part of a successful hunt. By understanding the behavior and patterns of deer in your hunting area, you can increase your chances of encountering them during the season. There are several techniques you can use to scout for deer, including glassing, tracking, and trail cameras.
Glassing involves using binoculars or a spotting scope to scan the landscape for deer. Look for areas with fresh sign, such as tracks, rubs, or scrapes. Pay attention to food sources, such as agricultural fields or mast-producing trees, as these are likely areas where deer will frequent.
Tracking is another effective scouting technique. Look for fresh tracks in soft soil or snow, and follow them to determine the direction the deer is traveling. This can give you valuable information about their movement patterns and potential bedding areas.
Trail cameras are a popular tool for scouting deer. These cameras can be set up in strategic locations and left for extended periods of time. They will capture photos or videos of deer passing by, allowing you to gather information about their size, age, and behavior.
Hunting Techniques: Still Hunting, Stand Hunting, and Spot-and-Stalk Hunting
There are several different hunting techniques that can be employed when pursuing deer in Missouri. Each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of technique will depend on factors such as the terrain, hunting pressure, and personal preference.
Still hunting involves slowly and quietly moving through the woods, constantly scanning the area for deer. This technique requires patience and a keen eye for spotting deer before they spot you. Still hunting can be effective in areas with dense cover or when hunting pressured deer.
Stand hunting involves setting up a tree stand or ground blind in a strategic location and waiting for deer to come within range. This technique is often used near food sources, travel corridors, or bedding areas. Stand hunting allows hunters to remain concealed and undetected, increasing their chances of a successful shot.
Spot-and-stalk hunting is a more active technique that involves spotting a deer from a distance and then closing the distance on foot. This technique requires stealth and the ability to move quietly through the terrain. Spot-and-stalk hunting can be effective in open areas or when hunting in mountainous terrain.
Field Dressing and Processing Your Deer
Proper field dressing and processing of your deer is crucial to ensure the quality and safety of the meat. Field dressing should be done as soon as possible after harvesting the deer to prevent spoilage and to cool the meat quickly.
To field dress a deer, start by making a small incision around the anus and carefully cut towards the chest. Be cautious not to puncture any organs or the bladder. Once the incision is made, reach inside the body cavity and carefully remove the organs, being mindful of any potential contamination.
After field dressing, it is important to cool the meat as quickly as possible. This can be done by hanging the deer in a cool, well-ventilated area or by placing it in a cooler with ice. Once the meat is cooled, it can be processed into steaks, roasts, or ground meat.
Safety Tips for Hunting in Missouri
Safety should always be the top priority when hunting in Missouri or anywhere else. The MDC provides several safety tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable hunting experience.
First and foremost, always treat every firearm as if it is loaded and never point it at anything you do not intend to shoot. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, and be aware of your target and what is beyond it.
Wearing hunter orange is also crucial for safety. In Missouri, hunters are required to wear a hunter orange hat or vest during firearms deer season. This helps other hunters identify your presence and prevents accidental shootings.
Additionally, always let someone know where you will be hunting and when you expect to return. Carry a communication device, such as a cell phone or two-way radio, in case of emergencies. It is also important to familiarize yourself with the area you will be hunting in and have a map or GPS device with you.
Conclusion: Enjoying the Thrill of Hunting in Missouri's Great Outdoors
Hunting in Missouri offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature, challenge oneself, and provide sustenance for the table. By understanding and following the hunting regulations and requirements, choosing the right gear and equipment, scouting for deer, employing effective hunting techniques, and practicing safety in the field, hunters can have a successful and enjoyable experience.
Remember to always hunt responsibly and ethically using MDC deer season guidlines, respecting the wildlife and the land. Take the time to appreciate the beauty of Missouri's great outdoors and enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Happy hunting!