JEFFERSON CITY, MO. Hunters checked 13,466 deer during Missouri's fourth youth-only firearms deer hunt last weekend.
The figure is a record for the youth portion of firearms deer season and a nearly 50 percent increase from last year.
Youth hunters checked 9,054 deer during the 2003 youth hunt. Once again, the Missouri Department of Conservation recorded no firearms-related deer hunting accidents during this year's youth portion, continuing an unblemished four-year record.
Hunters ages 6 through 15 can participate. If they do not have hunter education certification and are using a Youth Deer and Turkey Hunting Permit, they must hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed adult hunter who has a valid hunter education certification card. Landowner youth age 15 and younger hunting on their own property are exempt from these requirements.
This is the first year when nonresidents could participate. The number of youngsters who actually took part in the youth hunt is impossible to calculate, because the same permit is used during spring turkey season and the other segments of firearms deer season. The permit is good for one deer and one turkey.
The number of deer taken during the youth and urban portions of firearms deer season is small compared to the 200,000-plus deer killed during the regular firearms season.
Resource scientist Lonnie Hansen said the youth hunt still was important, however.
"Having a season when only kids get to hunt allows adults to focus on introducing youngsters to deer hunting," Hansen said. "They get to concentrate on instilling values like safety and good hunting ethics without the distraction of hunting themselves. It's a time for bonding and mentoring young hunters."
The youth hunt is the second of five portions of firearms deer season totaling 36 days. The urban portion was Oct. 8 through 11. The November portion started Saturday and runs through Nov. 23. The muzzleloader portion is Nov. 26 through Dec. 5, and the antlerless portion is Dec. 11 through 19.