The Close of the 2014 Missouri Whitetail Deer Season
January 15th marks the close of the 2014 Missouri Deer Season. We are really fortunate here in the Show Mo State, as we have an extended hunting opportunity with archery, rifle, and alternative method season. Seems with every passing year, the dynamics of the hunting season change, and change pretty dramatically. The 2013 season dealt us an extreme drought, which caused farmers major financial pain, but also put a significant hardship strain on the deer herd. The Hemorrhagic fly disease (Blue tongue) has impacted the deer herd throughout most of the state. It was extremely consistent across a plethora of northern Missouri counties that the number of deer sightings was down. That is not to say there is in any way a shortage of deer, there are just FEWER deer. This might be Natures’ way of rightsizing the deer population. My best guess is, instead of seeing 20 -30 deer during the course of a weekend hunt in years past, we saw 10 -15 during the 2014 season.
While we dealt with withered crops and dust in 2013, 2014 provided the polar opposite. Rain was abundant throughout the summer, enabling most farmers to produce a healthy crop of corn or beans. Problem was, EVERYBODY’S corn was great, so the deer had a buffet of options to fatten up for the winter. Our main farm in Linn County had so much rain that several of our neighbors’ bean fields actually flooded and ruined the soy bean harvest. Our corn fields held water the entire season, which made getting into and out of our tree stands an incredible challenge. Creeks and slews were full of water and even knee high boots didn’t make it possible to traverse into our stands. Alternative paths and routes into and out of our stands were necessary to not compromise the stealth needed to go undetected for our hunts. This actually continued to be an obstacle to overcome until this last weekend of bow season, when everything had finally frozen. We could just get on the frozen slews and walk quietly into our stands.
Our particular group managed to harvest 6 deer off the farm for the 4rd year in a row. Our SpyPoint trail cameras had a total of 5 shooters working through the pinch points of the farm. The first weekend of October was by far our most active and productive hunt of the 2014 season. I managed to harvest a huge bodied, 3.5 year old 8 pointer that needed to be culled out of the genetic pool. My first deer with the new Prime Alloy, a G5 Striker, a Carbon Express Maxima hunter arrow, and a Quaker Boy Grunt call was such a deadly combination, the double lunged deer only made it 100 yards before expiring. Two of my hunting partners managed to harvest their 1st bow deer on this very same hunt, on the same day! One harvested a 9 point and the other a button, thinking it was a doe.
There were two deer of particular interest frequenting the farm, “Lucky” and “Hercules” (see slideshow). As rifle season approached and the rut came into full swing, optimism abounded about the likelihood of someone getting a close encounter with one of them. My son, Tom, managed to put the hammer down on a nice 8 late morning and another hunter had a shot at Lucky close to dusk. After an exhausting search, it was determined “Lucky” lived up to his name and continues to roam the fields in Linn Co. After rifle season, we took our bows afield to try our luck at a late season deer.
One highlight of the archery season for me was the first bow harvest for yet a 3rd hunter off the farm, Glen. He has been an incredibly dedicated bow hunter putting in 5 seasons of near misses before his Striker broadhead found the heart of a spike. It truly proves that practicing all year in “field like” conditions can pay off handsomely. It was ever so rewarding while tracking his deer, to find the white belly visible just 40 yards from our position, especially to share with a good friend and hunting companion.
Our final hunt of the season was our customary last weekend January hunt. We arrived at the hunting cabin to find frigid conditions and frozen pipes. With the help of a couple of heaters, we thawed out the main line and we had water. This is the 6th year we’ve done this last weekend hunt and for all practical purposes , it is a recreational hunt. Glen had all the activity on the south end of our farm, as the deer were herded up and moving at dusk. No harvest or even a shot, but good food, good friends, and lifetime memories were made. Another long time friend of mine has just gotten into bow hunting as he braved the single digit temperatures, so there is high anticipation Dan will get on the board in 2015.
Best of luck with all your 2015 hunts!
Respectfully: Joe Antonacci