Additional firearm hunting days and more bonus no-antler permits are among proposals the state Department of Conservation is considering to increase deer harvest, starting in counties like Jefferson, where the chronic wasting disease has been identified.
Proposed changes include increasing the number of antlerless deer permits available during firearms season from two to four in counties where CWD has been detected. Another idea is five additional hunting days at the end of the November leg in CWD management zones and a special three-day antler hunting season in early or mid-October from 2023 onwards.
The time limit for making public comments is short. The online survey opened on July 25th and is scheduled to end on August 8th. The link to the survey can be found on a new departmental website, mdc.mo.gov/cwdplan.
I completed the online survey and received a second request for my input, which I received via email. The questionnaire on the website is an open-ended opportunity for anyone to provide feedback on the objectives of the Conservation Agency’s chronic litter disease monitoring and action plans. The survey I received via email was aimed specifically at me as a deer hunter and was looking for a data collection with an opportunity for comments.
My initial reaction to the emailed request was that I had to be special in order for the department to reach out to me about my contribution. The email was even “signed” by Jason Isabelle, the state’s newly appointed Cervid program director. I’ve known him and his work in the trenches for years.
I thought maybe I was asked to participate because I’m an outdoor writer in Missouri who has been reporting on hunting for a couple of decades and the department appreciated my insight. There aren’t many people in the state in this subset. I’m in a national outdoor media membership group and we have less than 100 members. It’s a diverse group, but hardly an unbiased audience.
Perhaps I was chosen because I can speak firsthand about taking a deer with CWD. That would lend credence to my opinion, but again, this pool for data collection would be tiny given the total number of free-roaming deer that have tested positive for the disease is less than 300.
Most likely, the survey was mailed to every deer hunter who obtained a permit in the past year or more recently. That could yield a few hundred thousand potential data interrogators and hence the best statistical results. I could contact Isabelle to ask who received the survey, but then I couldn’t cling to the remote possibility that the department thinks I’m special.
The first question in the survey was whether I hunted in 2021. It would be funny if they sent the email to people who hadn’t bought permits in the past few years but said yes.
As with many online surveys, this one is interactive, with questions that may change depending on the answers given. I only know what I was asked, which started with whether I hunted with bows, firearms, or both. I also gave information on which county I hunted the most.
The next questions asked for opinions on the deer populations where I hunt. Were there too many or too few deer, and should areas where CWD has been found be designed to have the same, slightly fewer or much fewer deer than areas where the disease has not yet been found?
The poll asked for my support for the proposed changes I mentioned earlier. Did I strongly support or strongly oppose any of the plans? I like the extra antlerless firearms hunter permits and the extended November section in CWD zones. I am concerned that the new early antlerless season could result in antler deer being harvested illegally and unreported.
I believe the department’s efforts to find and treat the deadly disease so far have been commendable. If others disagree, they have until August 8th to be heard online or by email if they provided the address when purchasing their hunting permit.
John Winkelman has been writing about outdoor news and issues in Jefferson County for more than 30 years and is Associate Editor of Outdoor Guide Magazine. If you have story ideas for Leader’s outdoor news page, email email@example.com. For more outdoor news and updates, visit johnjwink.com.