By Eric Abbott, Missouri Conservation Agent
The Youth-Only Deer Season was held this past weekend. The youth only season allows hunters between the ages of 6 and 15 to participate in a two day deer hunt 12 days prior to the regular firearms deer season. The results this weekend were good, and I say this whether the kids harvested a deer or not. This season provided youth the opportunity to get outdoors and try out the hunting experience while accompanied with an adult.
Overall, the statewide harvest for Youth Deer season was down considerably: 2016 harvest of 11,098 versus the 2015 harvest of 14,196. Most of this was due to the weather conditions throughout the weekend. Saturday was a miserable day for deer hunters as temperatures were in the mid 80’s, which limited deer movement to almost none. Sunday was a much better day for hunting as a cold front moved through and deer were up and moving. The low harvest trends for the state were reflected throughout the local counties as well.
Atchison County youth hunters did quite well considering the weather conditions for the weekend. There were only three deer harvested on Saturday, but youth hunters harvested 15 deer on Sunday, which made a total harvest for Atchison County of 18 deer (14 antlered deer and 4 does). Holt County hunters harvested a total of 22 deer (12 antlered deer, 4 button bucks, and 6 does). Nodaway County harvested 57 deer (46 antlered deer, 3 button bucks and 8 does). Youth hunters across the state harvested 11,098 deer (7,197 antlered deer, 999 button bucks, and 2,902 does).
The youth deer season has been in effect for 15 years and has become quite popular. There’s no question that it’s worth it. I spoke with numerous youth hunters since the hunt, and most of them are still smiling from ear to ear. Yes, some were lucky in regards to bagging a deer, but most of the hunters enjoyed the hunt. Nearly all the hunters saw deer, and those that didn’t were talking about the other critters they watched such as squirrels, coyotes, and turkeys. The season was a success, rewarding the youth with experiences they will not likely forget.
For those youth that harvested a deer, congratulations. For those that did not, be patient. There are still opportunities for kids to get out and deer hunt. The regular deer season opens on November 12 and another Late Youth-Only Deer Season opens on November 25 and closes on November 27.