As hunters, we arguably play the most important role in the conservation of our state programs. When the Department of Conservation begins to make changes or alter previous regulations, they often seek feedback from the general public, because we will be the ones that are impacted by the change. Outside of the wildlife and land that will be affected as well. The Missouri Department of Conservation has opened up its website for feedback until August 8th. The link can be found here.
As my home state continues to mitigate the damage of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the changes made must further help hunters and be effective in herd management. All changes that are being proposed will be fulfilled in the 2023 hunting season if they receive positive feedback from the hunting community and get the proper approval through the state channels.
Number of Antlerless Tags
The first proposed change is to increase the number of antlerless tags that can be purchased and filled during the 2023 hunting season. The current limit on antlerless tags sits at two for firearms portion of the season. The conservation would like to increase this to four tags throughout the firearm season. I could see this eventually settling at three antlerless tags. I foresee some pushback from both sides of the spectrum and 3 is the common ground to land on.
For hunters that feed their families year-round from deer they harvest in the fall, adding more tags is a no-brainer for them. Adding additional tags gives hunters more range and less pressure throughout the season. With the ability to harvest early in the season and not wait for the perfect doe to come along. This also gives hunters time and availability to hunt different locations. someone who typically hunts private land may want to experience hunting public land on their last tag when there is no pressure to fill all open tags and provide food for the year. This would only justify the reasoning from the Department of Conservation, to manage the population of deer in Missouri.
For the hunters and land owners who manage their herd, the additional tags are not going to impact how they manage their property. If a landowner needs to thin their herd then they can simply invite someone for their first experience on a hunt. For those that are just starting their hunting experiences, be sure to check out this article on how to start hunting. On the other side of that argument, landowners would no longer have to worry about the liabilities or troubles of having others hunt on their property. This would give them the freedom to manage their herd by themselves or with the small group of friends they traditionally hunt with.
Additional Firearms Seasons
The second change to regulations is to create a three-day antlerless firearms season in October. It is projected to begin on a Friday somewhere in the middle of the month. This would only affect certain counties that have not yet been selected. The counties would likely change year to year and research and data are collected.
From a personal standpoint, I think this takes away from the exciting buildup that goes into the November portion of firearms season. There will still be some hype left because no antlered deer are allowed to be taken during the October firearms portion, but it still wouldn’t be the same. I honestly feel somewhat similar about youth season. A strong mentor or parent can safely teach our children to hunt during the regular season. Additionally, has everyone forgotten about our archery hunters? Planting a three-day firearm hunt in the middle of archery season is my primary gripe with this specific change.
Lastly, the Department of Conservation would add a five day firearm season to the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. This change is also only available to select counties and is subject to change. I can see this change getting a lot of positive attention. Many hunters struggle to find ample time to get in the woods and hunt. With a lot of people having time off around Thanksgiving, this gives them time to get out an hunt and not miss work or personal obligations. Unless your skip Thanksgiving dinner with the family of course.
Something we need to pay attention to as hunters is the fact that this could all change and likely will. It could change this year or could change within the next ten years. You never really know, but it’s our job as hunters to be the engine of conservation in Missouri. it doesn’t how you feel about the proposed changes, but this is an opportunity to make your voice heard about the conservation in our state. Be sure to give them your feedback.