Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s Legislative Column for Oct. 28, 2020

Safety this Hunting Season

With everything going on in today’s busy world, it’s never a bad idea to unplug and relax for a bit. As the leaves begin to change and the days get a little cooler, our state’s natural resources provide numerous opportunities for each of us to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty and splendor of our surroundings. With several of Missouri’s hunting seasons right around the corner, I thought I’d inform my constituents about some changes happening this year, as well as remind them about some precautions to take this hunting season.

While COVID-19 is on many of our minds, hunters also need to be aware of another disease affecting some of Missouri’s four-legged residents. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal illness that affects white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family here in Missouri that the Department of Conservation and others are trying to stop. This year, the conservation department has suspended mandatory CWD sampling requirements in CWD Management Zone counties (like Gasconade) on Nov. 14 and 15 due to public health concerns tied to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That said, tracking and managing CWD still remains a priority, so sampling stations will remain open for voluntary participation. Additionally, the department would like to remind folks that the use of bait, including grain or other feed placed or scattered to attract deer or turkey, while hunting is illegal. This regulation is in place to help limit the spread of CWD in deer as well as to ensure a fair chase. For more information about CWD as well as carcass transport regulations, please visit

Just as it’s important to take care of our wildlife during the hunting season, it’s also important for hunters to take care of themselves and those around them. You can help keep yourself and others safe this hunting season by remembering some key safety tips like:

  • Before going out to hunt, make sure your equipment is in good working order;
  • Dress properly, and prepare for the worst possible conditions;
  • Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded. 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;
  • Let someone know where you will be hunting and when to expect you back. Make sure you have a way of communicating with others in case of an accident or an emergency;
  • Remember that hunting can be a strenuous activity that may require hiking rough terrain and carrying heavy equipment or carcasses. Be aware of the signs of a heart attack, and take breaks as needed to avoid overworking your heart;
  • Wear hunter orange. It is required during firearms deer season; and
  • Lastly, be patient. Hunting takes time. Always make sure your target is a legal deer, and never shoot at sounds in the brush.

By taking a few precautions and exercising some common sense, I’m confident we can have another safe and successful fall hunting season this year.

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