JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Conservation Commission set season dates and limits for the 2016-2017 fall deer season and gave initial approval to several deer-hunting regulation changes proposed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) at the commission’s Aug. 19 meeting in Jefferson City.

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Conservation Commission set season dates and limits for the 2016-2017 fall deer season and gave initial approval to several deer-hunting regulation changes proposed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) at the commission’s Aug. 19 meeting in Jefferson City.

Approved changes to fall deer season structure for 2016-2017:
• Maintain current timing of the November portion and reduce the length from 11 to nine days.
• Expand the late youth portion to three days beginning the first Friday after Thanksgiving.
• Reduce the length of the antlerless portion from 12 to three days and begin on the first Friday in December.
• Eliminate the urban zones portion.

Proposed regulation changes to fall deer season structure for 2016-2017:
• Allow crossbows as a legal method during archery deer and turkey seasons.
• Allow the use of crossbows during the fall firearms turkey season.
• Reduce the limit of antlered deer from three to two during the combined archery and firearms deer hunting season, with no more than one antlered deer taken during the firearms deer hunting season.
• Remove the hunting method exemption requirement related to crossbows.

Missouri’s rule-making process includes a 30-day public comment period. Comments related to the proposed regulation changes can be submitted from Oct. 2-31 at mdc.mo.gov/node/24141. Full verbiage of the proposed amendments will be posted on the website after Sept. 15.

The commission will make its final decision on the proposed changes at its December meeting. With final approval, the regulation changes would become effective in 2016 and implemented for 2016-2017 deer hunting seasons.

The department is working to simplify conservation area deer-hunting regulations by limiting methods and use of firearms and archery antlerless permits. To see the list of conservation areas with proposed changes to hunting methods and to provide comments, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/18891 from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. The page will not be available until Sept. 1.

The department also will continue to gather input from citizens on a variety of deer hunting-related topics, including nonresident permits and prices, through public surveys and its website in early 2016.

When formulating recommendations for regulation changes, the conservation department used deer hunter surveys, landowner surveys, archery-hunter observation surveys, deer population simulations, biological data, harvest summaries, public input gathered from 22 public open houses around the state and about 11,800 public comments received at public meetings and online.

“The goal of the conservation department’s deer management program is to use science-based wildlife management, combined with public input, to maintain deer population levels throughout the state that provide quality recreational opportunities, while minimizing human-deer conflicts,” MDC Deer Biologist Jason Sumners said. “As deer populations in Missouri have changed over the last 75 years, so have our management strategies. In modifying the hunting season structure, our aim is to achieve a deer population that is biologically and socially acceptable, while also promoting hunter participation, recruitment and retention.”

Upcoming archery seasons:
• Sept. 15 – Nov. 11, 2016
• Nov. 21, 2016 – Jan. 15, 2017

Upcoming firearms seasons:
• Early youth portion on Oct. 29-30, 2016
• November portion from Nov. 12-20, 2016
• Late youth portion from Nov. 25-27, 2016
• Antlerless portion from Dec. 2-4, 2016
• Alternative methods portion from Dec. 24, 2016 to Jan. 3, 2017