What you need to know about CWD, Missouri deer season

Important reminders for hunters before the season opens this weekend
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 5:19 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The firearms deer season will open to hunters across the state of Missouri this weekend.

The season usually brings 500,000 people outdoors. Francis Skalicky can’t emphasize enough how deer season is a big deal for many.

“It’s a good opportunity to put meat on your plate that you can’t get at the store,” Skalicky says. “It’s a big cultural event for people who’ve hunted with their families for years. This is a generational thing in Missouri.” Skalicky also states that it’s another great way to get outside and learn more about the outdoors.

One big factor the Department of Conservation is emphasizing with hunters this year is chronic wasting disease. The disease affects the nervous system of white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. Not only is this disease fatal for deer, but there are also no known cures or treatments available. With Greene County bringing the total CWD management zone counties in Missouri to 34, Skalicky says that hunters who harvest deer in these counties must submit the deer to mandatory sampling for the disease.

“It’s not a suggestion you should do,” Skalicky states. “It’s regulation that you take it to one of the sites.” Plus, there is the logic behind choosing the opening weekend, November 12 and 13, as the mandatory period for testing. “The reason we do it on the opening weekend is because that is when most people are hunting deer,” says Skalicky. “That is when the most deer are harvested.” Skalicky also adds that since the department only has so many agents and biologists that can sample a number of deer, the department is grateful for hunters that cooperate and contribute to the sample intake.

With the disease prevalent in the Missouri deer population since 2012, Skalicky is encouraged about the low rate of the disease over the last decade. “There have been 210,000 samples collected,” Skalicky says. “292 positives were found of those 210,000 total samples. We’re at a low prevalence, but it’s here. That’s why we continue to search and hope to stay on top of it here in Missouri.”

In addition to being aware of chronic waste disease for this deer season, Skalicky also encourages hunters to be safe while in the outdoors by not letting the anticipation and excitement get in the way of good judgment. “Before you pull that trigger, make sure that you’ve positively identified that target as a deer,” says Skalicky. “What you think sounds like a deer, what you think may look like a deer because it’s moving through the brush... Make sure it’s a deer before you pull the trigger. Always look beyond your target before you shoot to make sure that if you miss, your shot doesn’t go into a dangerous situation. Also, make sure your safety is on until you’re ready to pull the trigger.”

The Missouri Department of Conservation has the following resources available for hunters. Plus, they encourage hunters with any questions to give their local department office a call.

About Chronic Wasting Disease

List of Mandatory Sampling Locations

Deer Hunting Safety

2022 Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information

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