Plenty of deer, 34 hunting days and unlimited bonus permits in most of the state could add up to another record-breaking firearms deer season for Missouri.
The number of deer killed during Missouri's five-part deer season always depends heavily on weather. Cool weather encourages deer to move around, making them more visible to hunters.
On the flip side, weather that's too cold or rainy keeps hunters indoors, decreasing the annual harvest.
Still, state official Lonnie Hansen says with average to good hunting conditions Missouri's 425,000 deer hunters stand a good chance of topping last year's record harvest of 247,792.
Hansen estimated the state's deer herd at just over 1 million. He said deer numbers are down slightly in north-central and northwestern Missouri, but deer still are plentiful there.
Deer numbers have grown in the Ozarks and in west-central Missouri in recent years, but the increase has been small.
Deer numbers are stable in the rest of the state, with the exception of some metropolitan areas, where they continue to increase.
This year's firearms deer hunting main event remains at 11 days, running from Nov. 15 through Nov. 25. Muzzleloader season is a week earlier and a day longer this year, running from Nov. 28 through Dec. 7.
The antlerless-only deer season also comes earlier this year, and it is four days longer than in the past, running from Dec. 13 through Dec. 21.
These seasons were shifted forward on the calendar to reduce the likelihood that deer taken in the antlerless-only season will be bucks that have shed their antlers.