Hunters checked 15,226 deer during the antlerless portion of Missouri's firearms deer season Nov. 24-Dec. 5, bringing the tally for the year to 217,281.
Top harvest counties for the 12-day antlerless hunt were Macon with 453 deer checked, Benton with 430 and Callaway with 401.
This year's antlerless-deer harvest fell 31 percent short of last year's figure. The decrease continues the trend set during the previous three portions of this year's firearms deer season. In all, firearms deer hunters have checked 12,595 fewer deer this year than they had by this time last year, a decrease of 5.5 percent.
Two of the firearms deer season's six portions remain. Hunters typically shoot 10,000-15,000 deer during the 11-day muzzleloader hunt and fewer than 2,000 during the two-day late portion of the youth hunt.
"Even with strong harvests in the muzzleloader and late youth portions, this year's firearms deer harvest is likely to be smaller than last year's," said resource scientist Jason Sumners, a deer expert with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).
Sumners attributes the decrease in firearms deer harvest so far this year partly to the abundance of acorns in some parts of Missouri. When acorns are abundant, deer do not have to move around as much to find food, and they are less likely to be concentrated around food sources. This makes them less vulnerable to hunters.
The muzzleloader portion of firearms deer season runs from Dec. 18-28. The late youth portion is Jan. 1-2. Archery deer and turkey season runs through Jan. 15.