Alternative methods deer season opens Christmas Day

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Missouriís final firearms deer season of the year, the alternative methods portion, opens Christmas Day.

For those who didnít get a chance to take a deer in the November season, or who elected to pass what they did see, this is the last chance to pull the trigger until next fall.

Like every other deer season, shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

Any deer is legal, as long as you have the permit for it. If you hunt in an antler-point restricted county, those rules still apply.

Legal weapons in the alternative methods season include muzzleloading rifles and pistols .40-caliber or larger, centerfire handguns, air rifles .40-caliber or larger using an external air tank, air bows, archery equipment and atlatls.

Since they became legal for deer several years ago, I think only one person has been successful taking a deer in the state with an atlatl, but if youíve got the gumption to give it a whirl, my hatís to you.

Hunter orange clothing is required of all deer hunters during the alternative methods season, with one exception.

Anyone hunting on a firearms permit, even while using archery equipment, must wear the orange. However, if youíre bowhunting on an archery permit instead, you donít have to wear orange. Yes itís confusing, but itís been that way for a long time.

Also, donít forget to telecheck any deer you take by 10 p.m. the same day.

Last year, hunters across the state took 14,623 deer during the alternative methods season, but given how slow things have been lately, I would expect a much smaller harvest this time around.

The alternative methods season will run through Jan. 4.

Painfully Slow

Speaking of bowhunting, the archery harvest has come to a molasses-like crawl.

In most counties, a half dozen or less deer are being taken every week. Most folks have given up, and with the full moon out now, it probably wonít get any better.

As of Wednesday morning, the statewide archery deer harvest was 55,573, which already puts it as the third-highest tally since the archery season was instituted. However, much of that number can be attributed to other areas of the state because pretty much every local county is well below average.

In Butler County, 350 deer have been arrowed, and in Carter County, the total is 546.

Dunklin County bowhunters have taken 86 deer, and those in Reynolds County have tagged 550.

Ripley County bowhunters have notched 448 tags, and 552 deer have been taken in Stoddard County.

Wayne County hunters have taken 725 deer.

Time is quickly winding down for bowhunters, with the season set to close Jan. 15.

Hot in One Spot

The duck season, just like the archery deer season, has gotten pretty stagnant, except for one exception.

Duck numbers remain stable across the region, but there have been no pushes of new birds, meaning what we have has been here a while and has learned the ropes.

The Otter Slough Conservation Area is holding just 17,000 ducks, way below average for this time of year. The bird-per-hunter average there over the last five days has been around 2.0.

Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area in Mississippi County reports about 22,600 ducks on the area, but hunter success has been mediocre at best, with a bird-per-hunter average well below 1.0 most days.

At the Duck Creek Conservation Area, the bird-per-hunter average has been around 1.05 as well, and biologist Nicky Walker noticed an abrupt shift in duck numbers this week, when the area went from 27,000 birds to just 4,500 in its pools.

However, most of those ducks appear to have moved next door to Mingoís Pool 7 and Pool 8, which have become red hot. Essentially, the mallards have found the food in the flooded timber and thatís the place to be if you can get drawn to hunt there.

At the Coon Island Conservation Area, the last duck count I heard was 4,500 birds.

Pool 8, which is the northernmost timber unit at Coon Island, has been fully flooded, and Iíd expect hunting in it to be pretty good if the ducks have found it.

Duck hunters in Missouriís Middle Zone have about two and a half weeks before the season closes Jan. 9. Those in the South Zone can hunt until Jan. 31.

For those who hunt ducks in Arkansas, the second segment of the season will wrap up Thursday.

After a two-day Christmas break, the third and longest segment of the duck season will open Sunday and run through Jan. 31.

Still Slow

Crappie fishing at Wappapello Lake remains very inconsistent, for whatever reason.

A couple guys have told me about some fairly decent catches, but I have yet to hear about any great days on the water like we sometimes get in the winter months.

Fishing deep along the channel edge, near submerged cover, in the upper lake should get you into fish this time of year, theoretically.

And donít expect to catch any 20-inch crappies (that was a typo on Dec. 2, the result of being in a hurry). But if you do, youíll instantly be a living legend.

Paul Davis is the outdoor editor for the Daily American Republic and can be reached at pdavis.dar@gmail.com.

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