Missouri's 2008 Deer Outlook -- Part 1: Our Best Hunting Areas

Missouri's 2008 Deer Outlook -- Part 1: Our Best Hunting Areas

Your best shot at bagging a whitetail this season: Where can you get that? We've got answers! (October 2008)

Missouri is home to about 1.3 million whitetail deer. That's the good news.

The bad news: Those deer haunt a little over 44 million acres. Cities and towns occupy some of that, but even with that acreage subtracted, Show-Me state whitetails have a lot of room in which to roam -- and the time available to hunters for deciding on where to seek their quarry is limited.

The Missouri Department of Conservation divides the state's 114 counties into eight regions. Last year, Missouri hunters killed 300,130 whitetails in all deer seasons combined -- 24,295 below 2006's state-record deer harvest tally of 324,425. Read on to find out which regions and counties held the most whitetails, produced the highest harvests, and attract the most hunters.

NORTHEAST REGION
The Northeast Region hosts the densest population of whitetails in Missouri, with MDC estimates reckoning 32 deer per square mile (which equals about 640 acres) in this region. The northeast also ranks second in the state in terms of firearms hunting pressure, with an estimated 68,020 hunters, or 14.32 percent of all Missouri hunters, participating here. Containing 15 counties, it's also tied with the Central Region for rank of Missouri's fourth-largest region.

Hunters in this region bagged a grand total of 51,735 deer in all portions of the 2007 deer seasons, enough to claim 1st place honors statewide. The top three counties in this region for overall deer harvest last season were Macon, with 5,018 deer checked in (5th); Pike, with 4,982 deer (7th); and Monroe 3,928 (15th). The last-place county in the Northeast Region was Sullivan, with 3,427 (27th).

Firearms Deer Season: 1st place statewide, with 35,799 deer killed. The top three counties in this region: Macon, with 3,440 deer taken (6th); Pike, with 3,361 (7th); and Monroe, with 2,852 (15th).

Archery Deer Season: 1st place statewide, with 6,683 deer taken. The top three counties: Pike 641 deer harvested (8th); Putnam, with 627 (10th); and Macon, with 600 (14th).

Muzzleloader Deer Season: 3rd place statewide, with 1,702 deer harvested. The top three counties in this region: Pike, with 182 deer killed (19th); Macon, with 165 (21st); and Putnam, with 156 (26th).

Antlerless Deer Season: 1st place statewide, with 5,589 antlerless deer taken. The top three counties: Macon, with 608 deer (1st); Pike, with 601 (2nd) and Shelby, with 441 (8th).

CENTRAL REGION
The Central Region boasts the second-highest deer population in Missouri, estimated at 28 whitetails per square mile. It ranks first in terms of firearms deer hunting pressure, with an estimated 76,808 hunters, or 16.17 percent of the state total. With 15 counties inside its borders, it's the state's fourth-largest region.

The region finished in 2nd place in terms of overall numbers of deer taken throughout the 2007 deer seasons, with 49,623 whitetails harvested. The top three counties: Callaway, with 5,899 deer killed (1st); Camden, with 4,476 (9th); and Morgan, with 4,347 (10th). The Central Region's lowest-ranked county was Cole, with 1,516 deer (99th).

Firearms Deer Season: 2nd place statewide, with 34,749 deer killed. The top three counties: Callaway, with 4,041 deer harvested (2nd); Camden, with 3,197 (9th); and Morgan, with 3,109 (10th).

Archery Deer Season: Falling from its 1st place status in 2006, the Central Region ranked 2nd in 2007, with 6,288 deer arrowed. The top three counties: Callaway, with 808 harvested deer (3rd); Boone, with 758 (5th); and Osage, with 657 (7th).

Muzzleloader Deer Season: 2nd place statewide, with 2,239 deer killed. The top three muzzleloader harvest counties: Osage, with 294 (2nd); Gasconade, with 246 (6th); and Callaway, with 212 (10th).

Antlerless Deer Season: 3rd place statewide, with 3,978 deer harvested. The top three counties: Callaway, with 593 deer (3rd); Howard, with 520 (4th); and Camden, with 483 (5th).

Youth Deer Season: 1st place across the state, with 2,249 deer killed. The top three counties in this season were Osage, with 303 deer (1st); Callaway, with 245 (5th); and Gasconade, with 226 (6th).

Urban Deer Season: 1st place statewide, with 180 deer harvested in two counties: Boone, with 313 (1st) and Cole, with 39 (6th).

NORTHWEST REGION
The Northwest Region is home to the fifth-highest deer density in the Show-Me State, with an estimated 21.1 whitetails per square mile. This region is ranked fifth in terms of firearms deer hunting pressure, with 58,663 -- or 12.35 percent -- of the state's hunters. It is also the largest in size, with 19 counties.

Combined, all deer hunters in the region bagged a total of 43,112 deer in 2007, giving it 3rd place statewide in terms of overall numbers of deer taken. The top three counties: Linn, with 3,468 harvested deer (26th); Daviess, with 3,204 (35th); and Harrison, with 3,173 (36th). This region's last-place county was Worth, with 1,147 deer reported (107th).

Firearms Deer Season: The Northwest Region fell from 3rd place in 2006 to 4th in 2007, with 30,798 deer killed. The top three counties: Linn, with 2,382 deer (30th); Harrison, with 2,287 (35th); and Daviess, with 2,244 (37th).

Archery Deer Season: 6th place statewide, with 4,662 deer taken. The top three counties: Linn, with 413 deer (34th); Mercer, with 364 (45th); and Carroll, with 356 (47th).

Muzzleloader Deer Season: Moving up a notch from 2006, this region's statewide rank was 5th in 2007, with 1,469 deer checked in. The top three counties: Harrison, with 136 deer (36th); Carroll, with 117 (43rd); and Linn, with 115 (47th).

Antlerless Deer Season: 2nd place statewide, with 4,436 deer harvested. The top three counties: Daviess, with 410 deer (13th); Linn, with 390 (16th); and Carroll, with 359 (18th).

Youth Deer Season: 4th place statewide -- up from 5th in 2006 -- with 1,747 deer taken. The top three counties: Linn, with 168 harvested deer (15th); Chariton, with 145 (27th); and Harrison, with 136 (32nd).

OZARK REGION
The Ozark Region holds the sixth-most whitetails in the state, with an estimated 18.7 deer

per square mile. It ranks fourth in terms of firearms deer hunting pressure, with an estimated 58,948 hunters statewide, or 12.41 percent of the state total. It is also the fifth-largest region in the state (tied, with the Kansas City Region), with 12 counties.

The Ozark Region ranked 4th statewide in overall numbers of deer taken last year: 38,041 kills. The top three counties: Oregon, with 5,200 harvested deer (2nd); Texas, with 5,025 (3rd); and Howell. Pulaski County finished in last place in this region, with 1,836 deer taken (82nd).

Firearms Deer Season: The Ozark Region ranked 3rd across the state (up two notches from 2006), with 31,543 deer shot in 2007. The top three counties: Texas, with 4,043 deer killed (1st); Oregon, with 3,995 (3rd); and Howell, with 3,889 (4th).

Archery Deer Season: 3rd place statewide (up one place from 2006), with 5,021 deer harvested. The top three counties: Ripley, with 611 harvested deer (12th); Oregon, with 601 (13th); and Howell, with 548 (17th).

Muzzleloader Deer Season: The Ozark Region once again came in at 1st place, with 2,405 deer killed in 2007. The top three counties: Oregon, with 405 deer (1st); Howell, with 291 (4th); and Texas, with 243 (7th).

Youth Deer Season: 3rd place statewide, with 1,874 deer reported. The top three counties are Howell, with 258 deer (2nd); Ripley, with 254 (3rd); and Texas, with 205 (7th statewide, tied, with Macon).

SOUTHWEST REGION
The deer population in the Southwest Region is an estimated 18 whitetails per square mile, giving it 7th place honors statewide. This region ranks 3rd in terms of firearms deer hunting pressure, with an estimated 59,945 hunters, or 12.62 percent of the state total. It is the second-largest region, with 17 counties.

MORE WHITETAILS, FEWER HUNTERS
Finding the best deer hunting opportunities in Missouri means looking beyond raw harvest data. Deer densities and hunting pressure vary widely from region to region and here are some of the best clues available about where your odds of bagging whitetail are best.
REGIONDEER/SQ Mile.Estimated Firearms Hunters% Of All Firearms Hunters
NORTHEAST3268,02014.32%
CENTRAL2876,80816.17%
ST. LOUIS24.245,5058.58%
KANSAS CITY21.249,63810.45%
NORTHWEST21.158,86312.35
OZARK18.758,94812.41
SOUTHWEST1859,94512.62%
SOUTHEAST13.557,47512.10
*2007-08 Seasons

The Southwest Region came in at 5th place in overall whitetail harvest in 2007, with 32,994 deer tagged. The top three counties: Laclede, with 3,544 (25th); Hickory, with 2,905 (46th); and Dallas 2,807 (47th). Coming in at last place was Dade County, with just 949 harvested deer (109th).

Firearms Deer Season: The Southwest Region fell from 4th place to 5th in 2007, with 23,936 deer taken. The top three counties: Laclede, with 2,596 deer killed (22nd); Hickory, with 2,117 (43rd); and Dallas, with 2,036 (51st).

Archery Deer Season: 7th place, with 4,059 deer killed. The top three counties: Taney, with 358 deer harvested (46th); Newton, with 319 (55th); and Laclede, with 309 (60th).

Muzzleloader Deer Season: The Southwest Region fell two places to 6th statewide, with 1,442 deer killed. The top three counties: Laclede, with 171 deer (20th); McDonald, with 140 (34th); and Dallas and Taney, with 115 each (tied for 45th place).

Antlerless Deer Season: 5th place statewide, with 1,984 deer taken. The top three counties: Laclede, with 353 (20th); Hickory, with 302 (28th); and Dallas, with 285 (31st).

Youth Deer Season: The Southwest Region fell from 4th place to 5th, with 1,353 deer bagged during youth season. The top three counties: Taney, with 120 (41st); Laclede, with 115 (43rd); and McDonald, with 113 (47th).

Urban Deer Season: 2nd place statewide, with 162 deer reported in three counties. These counties were Webster, with 75 (2nd); Christian, with 54 (3rd); and Greene, with 33 (8th).

KANSAS CITY REGION
The Kansas City Region is home to the fourth-highest deer density in Missouri, with an estimated 21.2 whitetails per square mile. This area is also 7th statewide in terms of firearms deer hunting pressure, with an estimated 49,638 -- or 10.45 percent -- of the state's hunters. It is the fifth-largest region (tied, with Ozark), with 12 counties.

The Kansas City Region came in 6th place statewide in total numbers of deer harvested last year, with 30,191. The top three counties in this region were Benton, with 5,021 harvested deer (4th); St. Clair, with 3,718 (20th); and Henry, with 3,377 (29th). Finishing last in this region was Clay County, with 1,359 harvested deer (103rd).

Firearms Deer Season: 6th place statewide, with 21,191 deer taken. The top three counties include Benton, with 3,691 deer killed (5th); St. Clair, with 2,808 (17th); and Henry, with 2,548 (23rd statewide).

Archery Deer Season: 5th place in 2007, with 4,786 deer killed. The top three counties: Jackson, wi

th 804 deer (4th); Benton, with 758 (5th); and St. Clair, with 437 (30th).

Muzzleloader Deer Season: 8th place, with 1,057 deer tagged. The top three counties: Benton, with 199 harvested deer (15th); Henry, with 115 (46th); and St. Clair, with 106 (52nd).

Antlerless Deer Season: 4th place, with 2,202 deer killed. The top three counties in this season were Benton, with 449 deer (7th); Pettis, with 293 (30th); and Henry, with 283 (33rd).

Youth Deer Season: 7th place in 2007, with 1,074 deer harvested. The top three counties: Benton and St. Clair, with 153 harvested deer each (20th); Henry, with 147 (22nd); and Vernon, with 100 (56th).

NARROW YOUR ODDS
Listed below are the top three counties for each hunting method, as well as for youth, antlerless and urban seasons. Harvest totals from 2007-08 in parenthesis
Method/SeasonCounty #1County #2County #3
ALL SEASONSCallaway (5,699)Oregon (5,200)Texas (5,025)
FIREARMSTexas (4,043)Callaway (4,041)Oregon (3,995)
ARCHERYSt. Louis (986)Jefferson (878)Callaway (808)
MUZZLELOADEROregon (405)Osage (294)Jefferson (292)
ANTLERLESS*Macon (608)Pike (601)Callaway (593)
URBAN*Boone (313)Webster (75)Christian (54)
YOUTH*Osage (303)Howell (258)Ripley (254)
*Select counties only

Urban Deer Season: 3rd place statewide, with 131 deer reported. The four counties that participated were Clay, with 49 deer (4th); Cass, with 33 (8th, tied, with Greene); Jackson, with 25 (9th); and Platte, with 24 (10th).

SOUTHEAST REGION
Approximately 13.5 whitetails per square mile call the Southeast Region their home, making it the least-populated deer area in the state. This region is also sixth on the list in terms of firearms deer hunting pressure, with an estimated 57,475 -- or 12.10 percent -- of the state's hunters. It is the third-largest region statewide, with 16 counties.

The Southeast Region finished in 7th place out the eight-region total in terms of overall deer harvest last year, with 26,395 deer reported. This region is up one place in the regional harvest tally from 2006. The top three counties in this region were Wayne, with an impressive 4,095 deer harvested (12th); Ste. Genevieve, with 3,159 (38th); and Bollinger, with 2,914 (45th). The last-place county in this region was Pemiscot, with just 156 deer taken (114th), last place in the entire state.

Firearms Deer Season: 7th place, with 19,588 deer killed. The top three counties: Wayne, with 3,103 deer killed (11th); Ste. Genevieve, with 2,335 (31st); and Bollinger, with 2,237 (38th).

Archery Deer Season: 8th place statewide, with 3,926 deer killed. The top three counties: Wayne, with 632 deer killed (9th); Stoddard, with 434 (31st); and Ste. Genevieve, with 409 (36th).

Muzzleloader Deer Season: The Southeast Region moved up a slot, with a statewide ranking of 4th place in 2007, with 1,647 deer reported. The top three counties include Ste. Genevieve, with 268 harvested deer (5th); Wayne, with 200 (14th); and Bollinger, with 153 (27th).

Youth Deer Season: 6th place statewide, with 1,234 deer killed. The top three counties: Wayne, with 160 deer (17th); Ste. Genevieve, with 147 (24th); and Butler, with 140 (30th).

ST. LOUIS REGION
The St. Louis Region is home to the third-highest deer density in the state, with an estimated 24.2 deer per-square-mile. This region also receives the least firearms deer hunting pressure, with an estimated 45,505 -- or 9.58 percent -- of the state's hunters. It is the smallest region in the state, with only eight counties.

The St. Louis Region finished in 8th place overall in numbers of deer taken in 2007, with 25,168 deer harvested. The top three counties in this region were Franklin, with 4,513 harvested deer (8th); Lincoln, with 4,038 (13th); and Crawford, with 3,777 (16th). The last-place county in this region was St. Louis County, with 1,838 deer harvested (81st).

Firearms Deer Season: 8th place statewide, with 16,890 deer taken. The top three counties: Franklin, with 3,271 deer killed (8th); Crawford, with 2,875 (13th); and Lincoln, with 2,767 (18th).

Archery Deer Season: 4th place statewide (down one spot from 2006), with 4,837 deer killed in 2007. The top three counties: St. Louis, with 966 deer (1st); Jefferson, with 878 (2nd); and Franklin, with 733 (6th).

Muzzleloader Deer Season: 7th place statewide, with 1,411 deer taken. The top three counties: Jefferson, with 292 deer harvested; (3rd); Franklin, with 261 (5th); and Crawford, with 223 (9th).

Antlerless Deer Season: 6th place statewide, with 1,069 deer taken. The four counties that participated produced these results: Lincoln, with 429 deer (11th); Warren, with 285 (32nd); St. Charles, with 231 (40th); and St. Louis, with 124 (62nd).

Youth Deer Season: 8th place statewide, with 880 deer taken. The top three counties: Franklin, with 248 harvested deer (4th); Crawford, with 175 (12th); and Lincoln and Warren, with 108 each (tied for 52nd).

Urban Deer Season: 4th place out of four regions participating, with 81 deer harvested. The two counties eligible in thi

s region were St. Charles, with 45 deer killed (5th) and St. Louis, with 36 (9th).

SUMMARY
Now that you know which regions are hot and what counties are not, will you take the initiative to improve your odds by moving to greener pastures this year? Call the MDC's main office in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4115 to request maps of public lands in counties or regions you're interested in hunting this year.

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