The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
Up to this point, the 2018 Missouri archery deer hunting season has been pretty slow. And that's too bad because the firearms deer season opens on November 10, effectively ending the peaceful fall days in the woods. In fact, because of the way Missouri sets their deer seasons, only occasionally do archers get to experience what our neighbors to the north in Iowa and to the west in Kansas get to every year…November days in a deer stand with the rut heating up. Each of those states set their gun seasons a little later than we do here, resulting in some of the best archery hunting in the United States for them. Our northern border and our western border are invisible to the deer, but there is no doubt about it when you cross the state lines as far as the age structure of bucks in the deer herd is concerned. Both states have more big bucks. I know guys that run upwards of 50 trail cameras each summer, some on each side of the Missouri Kansas line. The pictures they collect don't lie.
Missouri took a step forward a little over a decade ago when it implemented a four-point restriction for bucks. Not everyone was in favor of it, but it has increased the survival of younger bucks, resulting in the opportunity to see a few more mature deer in the woods. But even after hearing the requests from all around the state to move our season back by just one week, the deer managers in Missouri elected to do nothing.
As a result, archery hunters are lucky to get a few days each fall before the firearms deer season when deer activity has picked up. Those days where deer are constantly moving through the woods just prior to the peak of the rut are special and rare in Missouri. Kansas and Iowa bow hunters get to experience them every year. The only difference is the timing of the season. When Missouri's season was first set in the 1940s, there was no archery season. It has never been changed.
Iowa was more fortunate. When its first modern deer season was set, it was decided that it was best to have it after the corn harvest. Due to that happy accident, and not a decision by teams of biologists or special regulations, Iowa has some of the most sought after deer hunts in the country. Kansas is a destination state as well. Timing of the firearms season is the only difference. The Missouri Department of Conservation always touts itself as a leader in Conservation. In many ways they have been, but in whitetail deer management, they still have a ways to go. As for me, I will buy a firearms tag and head to the timber with my bow in hand to experience the best days of the fall. I shouldn't have to do it wearing orange in potentially the best deer hunting state in the Midwest.