Late youth deer harvest down considerably

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Mother Nature sure didnít do Missouriís young hunters any favors over the weekend, making for some tough hunting for the second segment of the youth deer season.

Rain Friday, storms Saturday and strong winds Sunday likely kept all but the most devoted hunters at the house, and the wind sure did nothing to boost deer movement.

At the conclusion of the second segment, young hunters killed 1,909 deer statewide, falling short of the 2,595 taken during the same period last year.

The top counties in the state were Osage with 63 deer taken, Lincoln with 45 and Callaway with 41.

Locally, every county but one saw dramatic drops in the harvest except one.

In Carter County, young hunters killed three deer (17 last year), while in Ripley County, they tagged 12 (46).

In Butler County, the three-day harvest total was eight deer (29 a year ago), and in Stoddard County, they took home 11 (21).

Wayne County youths tagged 14 deer (48 last year, which was tops in the state).

The only local county to see an increase was Dunklin, where young hunters killed eight deer. Last year, they took seven.

The next firearms deer season will be the county-limited antlerless season this weekend. Firearms deer hunting will wrap up with the statewide alternative methods portion Dec. 28-Jan. 7.

New Archery Record

As of mid-day Tuesday, Missouriís archery hunters had set a new harvest record with 54,506 deer taken.

Thatís pretty impressive considering itís barely past the halfway point in the season. Then again, the second half is never as productive as the first.

At the latest check, bowhunters in Butler County had taken 513 deer, while those in Stoddard County had arrowed 633. In Dunklin County, the harvest has been sitting at 104 for a while, and in Wayne County, 933 bow-killed deer have been tagged.

In Carter County, the harvest is up to 530 deer, and in Ripley County, itís 540.

Getting Stale

Duck numbers havenít changed a whole lot in the past few weeks at our local managed wetlands, and the birds that are here have started to become a bit stale, similar to last yearís forgetful season.

All the sheet water in the region from recent rains also has caused ducks to spread out as they seek new food sources.

At the Otter Slough Conservation Area, there are about 40,000 ducks using the area.

At the Duck Creek Conservation Area, bird numbers have dropped some, and theyíre down to about 5,800 ducks this week.

The good thing at Duck Creek is Mingoís adjacent Pool 8 now is flooded and a limited number of hunters are allowed in each day.

ďItís pretty close to being full,Ē said MDC Southeast Region Wildlife Division Supervisor Matt Bowyer, ďand we started letting a few people in Sunday or Monday.Ē

Hunter numbers for that unit, Bowyer said, will slowly be expanded as more ducks start using it. Currently, he said, only a few birds have been taking advantage of the flooded timber.

One problem Pool 8 hunters will face for the next week or so, Bowyer said, is simply getting into the unit.

The two old foot bridges providing access on the east side of the pool were removed last summer and were supposed to be replaced with new ones, but that hasnít happened yet.

Because of that, Bowyer said, hunters will have to go through Mingo to the southwest corner of the pool or gain entry to the east side by boating across Ditch 1.

ďBecause of the situation, weíre not going to be too restrictive on how they access it until the new bridges are installed,Ē he said.

For those who hunt Missouriís South Zone, the second segment of that season will open Saturday and run through the end of January.

Popular South Zone managed wetlands include the Coon Island Conservation Area in Butler County and the Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area in Mississippi County. The Little River Conservation Area east of Kennett in Dunklin County also is a good bet, but itís only open to hunting a few days a week.

Arkansas Season

If you hunt ducks in Arkansas, the second segment of that stateís duck season will open Wednesday and run until Dec. 23.

It will be followed by the stateís third, and longest, season segment running Dec. 26-Jan. 31.

Peck Ranch Hunt

Saturday and Sunday are the days for the annual managed muzzleloader deer hunt at the Peck Ranch Conservation Area in northwestern Carter County.

That means the refuge area and elk auto tour will be closed to the public both days.

If the weather holds out over the weekend, and it looks like it may for at least one day, and if deer movement isnít overly slow, it should be a good hunt. Iíve seen more deer than ever at Peck Ranch in my few recent visits, and with 200 hunters roaming the property, they should keep some deer moving.

Mingo NWR Hunt

This weekend also will be the dates of the annual managed muzzleloader deer hunt at the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge.

While the boardwalk nature trail, Red Mill Drive and the general bowhunting areas will remain open to the public, everything west of Ditch 4 will be closed, including Bluff Road and the Job Corps and Rabbit Ridge entrances.

Crappie Winners

Crappie anglers at Wappapello Lake now have to deal with high water after the lake rose to more than 367 feet after last weekendís rains.

And those rains sure didnít help things Saturday as members of the Wappapello Crappie Club fished a tournament.

Only eight teams fished the event, and at the end of the day, the pair of Roper and Stearns were the winners with a stringer weight of 9.02 pounds. They also had the dayís big fish, weighing in at 1.88 pounds.

Second place went to Guiling and Conner with 6.76 pounds.

The Wappapello Crappie Club will fish again on Dec. 15.

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