Ozark County hunters kill fewer deer this rifle season than in past 10 years

Dora resident Jay Smith and his mom, Becky Smith, were both successful during this year’s rifle season, killing these two big bucks. “It was a good morning at the Smith farm,” Jay said. “My mom is a big-buck killer. I love hearing and seeing how excited she gets during deer season.”

Ozark County hunters harvested fewer deer during this year’s firearms season, Nov. 14-24, than they have in the last 10 years. 

Preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation indicates that 1,681 deer were killed this year during Missouri firearms deer season in Ozark County. The total harvest includes 867 antlered bucks, 141 button bucks and 673 does. 

The harvest was about a 12 percent decrease from last year, with 227 fewer deer killed. Then Ozark County hunters took home 1,908 deer. 

The total this year is about 30 percent lower than it was five years ago in 2015, when 2,304 deer were killed. In fact, Ozark County hunters killed more than 2,300 deer each year from 2015-2017.

Total deer killed in Ozark County over the years were 1,681 in 2020; 1,908 in 2019; 1,894 in 2018; 2,308 in 2017; 2,350 in 2016; 2,304 in 2015; 1,793 in 2014; 1,791 in 2013; 2,369 in 2012 and 1,909 in 2011. 

Statewide this firearms season, hunters killed 176,604 deer, about a 2 percent decrease, or just over 3,300 deer, from last year’s total of 179,960 deer. 

The top harvest county this year was Howell County, adjoining Ozark County to the east, with 3,496 deer. Franklin County hunters killed the second most deer, 3,409, and Texas County hunters rounded out the top three with 3,374 deer killed. 

Missouri Department of Conservation cervid program supervisor Jason Isabelle said hunters did well despite challenging weather conditions. 

“Hunters posted an impressive harvest total given the challenging conditions, particularly on opening weekend,” he said. “Typically, about half of the harvest occurs during the first two days of the season. Unfortunately, hunters were greeted by rain and high winds to start the season, resulting in harvest numbers falling behind last year’s mark early.”

Isabelle’s remarks ring true for Ozark County hunters, who faced cold, wet and windy conditions on opening weekend. Hunters harvested 721, or 42 percent of the total deer harvested during opening weekend, Nov. 14-15. 

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423