There are many things I admire about the Missouri Dept. of Conservation but their deer hunting regulations are not among them.
I and four other Kansas residents own a 190-acre parcel of land in Bates County, MO. We bought it for duck, deer, and turkey hunting. In the past we purchased non-resident landowner deer and turkey permits for half price. Several years ago MDOC raised the price of deer and turkey tags and did away with non-resident landowner permits. Now I pay full price, $225, to hunt deer on my own land. A fall turkey tag is $110. We pay taxes in MO, $591 this year, so it seems unreasonable to me that we are required to pay the full $225.
My partners who used to hunt deer and turkeys have given up hunting on our land partly for this reason. My love of the sport has compelled me to hold my nose and shell out $225 each November. In my opinion the amount of additional revenue MDOC takes in for this travesty of justice cannot possibly offset the ill will it creates.
Now let’s talk about ridiculous antler restrictions. A legal buck must have at least four points on one side. A spike buck is illegal if one spike is greater than three inches. This may work for bow hunters looking at deer from 20 to 40 yards, but firearms hunters routinely see our quarry at ranges up to 100 yards or farther and must make split second decisions. Deer seldom stand sideways for us, posing like in magazine photos. They are usually walking or partially hidden by brush. (I personally refrain from shooting at running deer.) Are we supposed to climb down from our stands, walk to that spike buck, ask him to hold still while we measure his spike, then climb back into our stand and pull the trigger? I understand the reason for these regulations is to foster the growth of bigger bucks but they are ridiculous, impossible restrictions and should be repealed.
How about the telecheck system? It’s a joke. With this system the only way an illegal hunter gets nabbed is at the processing plant and most rural hunters don’t take their deer to be processed, they butcher it themselves. In reality under this system there is no way to know how many deer are harvested in MO, and with an unlimited number of antlerless tags available at $7 a pop I don’t think MDOC cares.
MDOC should return to the check-in station system, not only to keep an accurate account of the deer kill but also for the social occasions it afforded rural communities. The old spit-and-whittle guys used to hang around the check stations to gossip about the bucks being checked in. Now this annual community event is history, thanks to the misguided policies of the Missouri Department of Conservation.