Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s Legislative Column for the Week of Nov. 11, 2019

Promoting a Safe Deer Hunting Season

As the weather turns colder, many of us will brave the cold, freezing temperatures and spend hours on end waiting for the perfect shot. As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, it’s a sure sign that deer season is upon us. The Missouri Department of Conservation estimates 290,224 deer were harvested during the 2018-2019 deer season, with 284,477 deer harvested the year before that. I’m confident we’ll have another bountiful harvest this deer season, and I hope it’s a safe one too. To make sure both of those happen, here’s a bit of hunting safety advice to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable hunt.

Like most states, Missouri requires hunters to pass a safety class. Passage of the class is required in order to purchase a firearms hunting permit. 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 hunting on land you own.

After making sure you’re properly permitted, be sure to abide by the following safe hunting practices before stepping out into the fields:

  • Make sure your equipment is in good working order;
  • Be sure to wear hunter orange. It is required during firearms deer season;
  • Be patient. Hunting takes time. Always make sure your target is a legal deer, and never shoot at sounds in the brush;
  • Never climb into a tree with a loaded gun. Always wear a safety harness when hunting from a tree stand and when using a camouflage blind, tie hunter orange on each side of the blind so hunters can see you from all sides;
  • Pick up all litter — including spent ammunition and clean and care for your game properly; and
  • Report observed violations of the law to a conservation agent or local sheriff as soon as possible.

Again, be sure to make safety a priority this hunting season to ensure a successful harvest for all. I wish all the hunters out there the best of luck, but be sure to leave a few deer for me.

Please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at