Archery deer, turkey seasons wrap up Saturday

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Saturday is the last day of Missouriís archery deer and turkey season, the second-longest season of the year behind the one for squirrels.

Statistically, itís been the third-best archery deer season in the stateís history, with the record set last year and the second-highest harvest the year before.

At this point, 59,103 deer have been taken by bowhunters.

As previously written, much of the success has come from other regions of the state, because every local county is below last yearís harvest, some by 40% or more.

The biggest drop in harvest is in Butler County, where the 368 deer taken at this point in the archery season is 48% below last year.

Carter County is down 24% with 574 deer taken.

Dunklin County, statistically, has seen the smallest drop in its harvest compared to a year ago at 18%. A total of 92 deer have been arrowed there.

Reynolds County bowhunters have tagged 601 this season, down 23% from last year.

In Ripley County, 473 deer have been tagged by bowhunters, down 37%.

Stoddard County hunters have fared a bit better, taking 593 deer, a 19% drop.

Wayne County, which had the stateís fourth-highest archery harvest last year, has seen a 40% drop this year, with archery hunters taking 778 deer.

A lot of factors go into the archery harvest, including hunting pressure, weather, acorn availability, luck and more.

Another thing to note is there were more people out of work last year, so itís likely more were in the field than in normal years.

Itís important to look at all the numbers over time, and while I havenít had the time to do that, I will say Iím mildly concerned about deer numbers.

Anyway, the forecast for Saturday, as of now, is calling for 1-3 inches of snow in the morning. That, of course, has got me excited to climb a tree and give it one last shot.

Final Weeks

Duck numbers continue to remain stable across Southeast Missouri, and with the closing of the Middle Zone season last weekend, options for hunters are a bit limited.

South Zone public lands include the Coon Island, Ten Mile Pond and Little River conservation areas, plus hunting along the rivers.

Other areas often overlooked for duck hunting are the Ben Cash and Hornersville Swamp conservation areas in Dunklin County.

Of course, you can opt to hunt geese at Otter Slough or Duck Creek as well.

A quick check of just two Northern Missouri wetlands, the Ted Shanks and Grand Pass conservation areas, shows more than 300,000 ducks, mostly mallards, still holding up there. Both areas are closed to hunting now, so thereís no pressure on the birds, but if a strong winter weather front comes along and locks up the water, Southeast Missouri hunters could benefit nicely.

The South Zone, as well as the duck season in Arkansas, remains open through Jan. 31.

Quail Closure

For the few quail hunters still giving it an honest effort, thereís just a couple days left in the season, which closes Saturday.

Itís a bit of a sad story how quail numbers have plummeted over the last few decades, especially for someone who grew up hunting upland birds, but there are places in Southeast Missouri where they continue to hang on by a thread. Hopefully things can turn around in the future and bobwhite quail can be common again.

Fishing Alternatives

I havenít heard from any local anglers about crappie fishing on Wappapello Lake this week, but given the steady fall of the water level over the last several days, I canít imagine itís anything but sporadic.

There are other fishing options, which can be quite good in the winter months.

Clearwater Lake has been much more stable lately, and while it doesnít get the fishing pressure Wappapello does, the crappie fishing there can be really good.

Pool 1 at Duck Creek also comes to mind, and fishing there now could produce some good catches of black crappies and pickerel. Now that the duck season has closed at Duck Creek, the south half of Pool 1 is open again for fishing.

The same is true at Cypress Lake on the Otter Slough Conservation Area, though I donít think itís known as much for its fishing quality.

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

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