As fall arrives across Missouri, we are greeted with the familiar changing colors of the leaves, the brisk autumn air and signs of the harvest. For many of us, it is also a sign that hunting season is right around the corner. While hunting is an enjoyable sport, one that I enjoy myself, it can be dangerous and requires everyone involved to be safe and follow state laws.
Like most states, Missouri requires hunters to pass a safety class. Passage of the class is required in Missouri in order to purchase a firearms hunting permit. Participants in the class must be at least 11 years old. If you plan to hunt during a Missouri firearms season or you are acting as an adult mentor, you are required to first complete an approved hunter-education certification program and provide proof of completion unless:
- You are 15 years old or younger and will be hunting with a properly permitted adult mentor 18 years or older;
- You were born before Jan. 1, 1967;
- You received a disability exemption from the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Protection Division;
- You are 16 years of age or older and have purchased an Apprentice Hunter Authorization permit and will be hunting with a properly permitted adult mentor 18 years or older; or
- You are the landowner or lessee hunting on land you own or upon which you reside.
Since 1987, when hunter education became mandatory, it has reduced hunting accidents and deaths by more than 70 percent. For this reason, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) requires all hunters to pass the course and become hunter-education certified.
Over the next several months there are a variety of hunting seasons open in Missouri. They include:
- Squirrel hunting, now through Feb. 15, 2018;
- Snipe hunting, now through Dec 16;
- Dove hunting, now through Nov. 29;
- Rabbit hunting, now through Feb. 15, 2018;
- Deer (archery) and turkey season now through Nov. 10, then will reopen from Nov. 22 until Jan. 15, 2018. Keep in mind an antler-point restrictionapplies in some counties;
- Fall firearms turkey season is from Oct. 1 until Oct. 31; and
- The November firearms deer season is open Nov. 11 through 21. An antler-point restrictionapplies in some counties.
Youth firearms deer season is Oct. 8 and Oct. 29, then again Nov. 24 through Nov. 26. The antler-point restriction does not apply during the youth portions of deer season. To participate, you must be at least six years old and no older than 15 on the opening day of the early youth season.
During the 2016-2017 hunting season, MDC reported a harvest of more than 264,000 deer for the firearms season and nearly 47,550 deer were tagged by MDC during archery season. I wish each and every one of you good luck during the upcoming hunting season, but please remember to be safe and to be a good steward of the great outdoors.
Thank you for reading this weekly column. Please contact my office at (573) 751-3678 if you have any questions.