UPDATED: Texas County ranked second in the state Tuesday afternoon in the firearms deer season that began Saturday.

The county was 26 behind Howell County, which reported a harvest of 2,180. Other leaders in the state: Wayne, 1,955; Benton, 1,906; and Macon, 1,818.

The harvest in the county was up about nearly 400 from the same period a year ago — despite nasty weather on Sunday.

On Tuesday afternoon, the total was 2,154 in the county. The breakdown: 1,118, bucks; 232, button bucks; and 804, does. 

Hunters checked 69,614 deer during the opening weekend of Missouri’s November firearms deer season.

This year’s opening-weekend harvest is 22 percent below last year’s figure. Missouri Department of Conservation Resource Scientist Jason Sumners says windy, unseasonably warm weather on Saturday limited deer movement, making them less available to hunters. Wind and rain on Sunday probably kept many hunters indoors or huddled around campfires, further limiting the opening weekend harvest.

The University of Missouri’s Historical Weather Database recorded a high temperature of 75.2 in central Missouri Saturday. The temperature began falling Sunday morning, finally bottoming out at 24.9 degrees, with rain and wind gusting to 34 mph much of the time. In short, terrible hunting conditions.

Sumners notes, however, that hunters have 34 days of firearms deer season after the opening weekend. This includes the remaining days of the November firearms season, 12 days of the antlerless portion, 11 days of the alternative-methods portion and two days of the late youth hunt. Deer taken during these days will help make up for poor hunting conditions on opening weekend. He said he expects a good deer harvest in spite of opening-weekend difficulties.

Sumners says he does not expect a decrease in this year’s statewide deer harvest as a result of the widespread outbreak of hemorrhagic diseases, commonly called blue tongue. He says any local reductions in deer harvest due to hemorrhagic disease are likely to be offset by an expected strong deer harvest in the Ozarks.

According to Sumners, declines in deer population in localities with high incidences of hemorrhagic disease don’t always cause immediate decreases in deer harvest. Instead, harvest decreases usually trail population declines by two or three years.

The difficulty of measuring losses to hemorrhagic disease makes it impossible to predict local population impacts. Hunters and landowners can adjust their harvest – particularly of does – in response to observed decreases in local deer numbers.

MDC recorded one nonfatal firearms-related hunting incident during the opening weekend.

Deer hunting is a treasured cultural tradition and a significant factor in state and local economies. Missouri’s more than 500,000 deer hunters spend more than $690 million directly related to deer hunting each year. These expenditures generate more than $1 billion in business activity and support more than 12,000 Missouri jobs.

Besides putting food on the table and encouraging healthful outdoor recreation, deer hunting is an indispensable tool for regulating Missouri’s deer population, the conservation department said. By keeping deer from becoming overpopulated, hunters reduce the potential for deer disease outbreaks and minimize deer-vehicle accidents and damage to crops and other property.

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EARLIER: Hunters in Texas County bagged about 1,400 deer in the first two days of the fall firearms season, and it leads Tuesday across Missouri. 

The count on Monday morning showed Texas County in second place in the state with 1,438 deer. The breakdown shows: 754, bucks; 149, button bucks; and 535, does. 

By Tuesday, 2,010 had been killed in the county. 

Windy, rainy weather hampered efforts Sunday following mild weather on opening day, Saturday. 

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