Missouri Whitetail Deer Hunting
Missouri has steadily risen in the ranks of both the Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young Record Books over the past several years. Missouri Whitetail Deer Hunting is now ranked in the top 5 States regarding number of entries in the record books. Missouri may be the #1, Sleeper State in the United States. In fact, I’m convinced it is just that. (The #1 Sleeper State for Whitetail Deer Hunting in America.) There are many reasons why locations like Buffalo County, Wisconsin, Pike County, Illinois, Wayne County, Iowa, and several other locations have received so much publicity over the past several years. The primary reason is that Outdoor Television Shows and Outdoor Writers call Whitetail Outfitters in search of free hunts in exchange for advertisement. Between just Wisconsin and Illinois alone there are over 750 Whitetail Outfitters. In Missouri there are less than 50 and probably only a handful of Missouri Whitetail Outfitters that are running good Whitetail Outfitting Services. Thus as you might imagine just the odds of Missouri having more visits from the Outdoor Media is significantly less which literally hides the State of Missouri from exposure to television viewers and readers of Whitetail Deer Specialty Magazines. Another valid reason why Missouri Whitetail Deer Hunting has been overlooked is because Missouri had some growing up to do. What I mean by this is that the State of Missouri put a 4 point on side of the rack restriction on its whitetail deer herd 4 years ago. Because of this, it is at this moment Missouri Whitetail Deer Hunting is beginning to peak in quality and quantity of whitetail trophy bucks. Just this past season a possible new world record non typical may have been harvested in Missouri but we await the dry score of the animal.
As a Whitetail Outfitter in 5 State I have the privilege of watching success rates from Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri and have had over the past 13 years of full time business. While everyone is still talking about and wanting to hunt Pike County, Illinois they must not be looking at our success rates page as for 2 years in the row Missouri has outperformed Pike County, Illinois in most categories we keep records of surrounding trophy buck opportunties. This categories include Nonrut Bow, Rut Bow, 1st Gun, 2nd Gun, and Muzzleloader Only Hunting. We define success by comparing the number of trophy shot opportunities to the number of hunters in a given time period. For example if we had 10 hunters in camp from November 1 to November 5 and those 10 hunters had 8 shot opportunities at trophy bucks we would report an 80% success rate. This report doesn’t mean that 8 of the hunters received shot opportunities. It may be that 5 of the hunters in the group had 8 shots. Any success rate that exceeds 100% simply means that during that time period we yielded more shots at trophy whitetail bucks than we had hunters in camp. Success rates exceeding 100% doesn't mean everyone in that time period received a shot. As a final note success rates are in a no way a promise of harvest. Remember we are hunting wild trophy animals, and any outfitter that promises you a shot is in fact being dishonest.
Let us compare our success rates for Missouri versus reknown Pike County, Illinois in 2007 and 2008.
Missouri Whitetail Deer Hunting Pike County, Illinois Deer Hunting
2007 2008 2007 2008
Nonrut Bow 66% 105% Nonrut Bow 64% 144%
Rut Bow 152% 141% Rut Bow 112% 149%
1st Gun 167% 138% 1st Gun 53% 75%
2nd Gun 83% 132% 2nd Gun 60% 68%
Muzzleloader 88% 88% Muzzleloader 66% 100%
In fact over the past two years Missouri Deer Hunting Success Rates have had an overall average of 116% at the hunter getting a shot at a record book buck, while in Pike County, Illinois its overall 2 year success rate average is 89% at the hunter getting a shot at a record book buck. IMAGINE THAT OUR MISSOURI DIVISION IS OUTPERFORMING THAT HIGHLY COMMERCIALIZED REKNOWN PIKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS DIVISION. Sadly enough, not enough hunters have done their homework and realize that Missouri is literally rocking and coughing up many huge whitetail deer each year, and it is only getting better and better as we watch it grow.
Don’t get me wrong, Pike County, Illinois is a great place to hunt, and in Illinois you will see more deer, but we are simply getting more shots at record book deer in Missouri.
Missouri Deer Hunting Information
All Missouri counties were opened to the hunting of bucks in 1959. In 2002, the buck-only tag was eliminated and a deer of either sex has been allowed in all counties since then with no limit on the number of hunters who can obtain these permits.
Missouri offers a wide range of hunting conditions. The Ozark region in southern Missouri has large areas of solid timber but is much weaker in regard to quality whitetail bucks. As much as 85 percent of some counties are wooded but don’t hold a candle to the Northern portions of the State of Missouri when compared to the power counties of Macon, Shelby, Putnam, and Knox. The central counties have cultivated land mixed with woods in about a 50:50 ratio. The prairie region in northern and western Missouri is mainly agricultural land with woody cover confined to woodlots or along streams where the really big deer are being harvested.
Most deer hunting in Missouri is done on privately owned land. Most landowners still permit free hunting, but there is a growing tendency to charge for hunting privileges, either by the day or the season. Often, farmers lease their entire holdings to a group of hunters for the season. Remember, always obtain permission before entering private land.
The U.S. Forest Service owns about 1.5 million acres in the Missouri Ozarks, and this land is open to public hunting. Maps are available from the U.S. Forest Service, 401 Fairgrounds Rd., Rolla, MO 65401. The Conservation Department manages more than 600,000 acres that also are open to hunting. Maps of conservation areas are available from the Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, and from the MDC Atlas.
No matter where you choose to hunt, you should become as familiar with the area as you are with your own backyard. Your chance for success in a familiar area, even though it may have fewer deer, is greater than in an area that is strange to you. Thorough scouting prior to the hunting season will greatly increase your chances of success.
Look for deer tracks, droppings, signs of browsing on plants, buck scrapes along the edge of forest clearings and antler rubs on small trees. Scouting may be done in advance of the season, however, remember that deer may change their location and movements as the acorns begin to drop and the breeding season begins.
A good map is essential to scouting any area. Topographic maps show the location of ridges, hollows, streams, and other landmarks which will help you become familiar with a new area to be successful on your Missouri Whitetail Deerhunt, however Missouri Whitetail Outfitters continue to be the strongest chance one has to harvest a record book whitetail in the counties of Macon, Knox, Shelby, and Putnam. Not only will maps and outfitters help you plan your hunt, but they also may keep you from getting lost. Experienced hunters who are wise to the habits of deer can pick out likely spots for a stand from a topographic map. Topographic maps may be purchased from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Land Survey, ATTN: Maps and Publications, P.O. Box 250, Rolla, MO 65402, (573) 368-2125.
Once you have decided on a place to hunt whitetail deer in the State of Missouri, stay with it. There must be deer in the area or you wouldn’t have picked it in the first place. The longer you hunt in the same place and the more you learn about the area and the habits of deer, the better your chance of success you have, however implementing the shortcut of a Missouri Whitetail Deer Outfitter is your best bet to score quick without all the work. As an example of how the wily whitetail can avoid the hunter, six experienced Michigan deer hunters were permitted to hunt inside a mile-square fenced enclosure that contained 39 deer. It took 14 hours of hunting to kill a deer during an any-deer season and 51 hours of hunting to kill one buck during a bucks-only season. During one season, with good tracking snow, it wasn’t until the fourth day that the hunters even saw one of the antlered bucks known to be present. It took 15-½ man-days of hunting to locate and kill this buck inside a fenced area with snow on the ground, thus you can plainly see the importance of a Missouri Whitetail Deer Outfitter.
Conservation Department regulations permit firearms hunters a wide choice of weapons. They may legally use shotguns (slugs only); muzzleloading or cap-and- ball firearms not smaller than .40- caliber; rifles or handguns firing only centerfire ammunition; or longbows, compound bows and crossbows
What Gun to Use in Missouri Whitetail Deer Hunting
Prohibited weapons include full metal case projectiles, ammunition propelling more than one projectile at a single discharge and self-loading rifles having a capacity of more than 11 cartridges in magazine and chamber combined.
A muzzleloader portion of the firearms season provides muzzleloading firearms enthusiasts with additional deer hunting. Persons holding a firearms permit can hunt in December but are restricted to using a muzzleloading firearm; no other firearms, longbow or crossbow may be carried during this portion of the season.
What rifle should the beginner use for hunting whitetails in Missouri? The choice of a deer gun is usually influenced by the hunter's desires, finances, advice from experienced hunters, and what is available. However, there are several other factors that should be considered: How good of a shot are you? Can you take the recoil of a large caliber rifle? Are you going to use the gun just for deer hunting? Are you going to hunt deer in Missouri only?
If finances are a problem, the hunter should consider using a shotgun. The one-ounce slug from a 12-gauge shotgun can be very effective at short range. About 5 percent of Missouri's deer harvest is by shotgun. The effective range of a shotgun slug is only about 100 yards, but this range is adequate for Missouri conditions. In our rough terrain and brushy cover, most deer are killed at less than 100 yards.
Most shotguns, however, do not have adequate sights for accurate aiming at even 50 yards. A shotgun is designed to be aimed so that the spread of the pattern will cover the target. The chest area of a deer presents about a 12-inch target; therefore, the single slug must be aimed with considerably better accuracy than the shot pattern. Rifle-type sights for shotguns are available from several "after-market" companies. In addition, many manufacturers offer special rifled slug barrels for their shotguns and most allow for mounting a scope.
When you mention deer hunting, most people immediately think of a deer rifle. What is the best deer rifle for hunting in Missouri? There seem to be as many answers to this question as there are rifles available. Hunters in a 1991 survey used every legal type of weapon. Deer were killed with rifles of various centerfire calibers and with all types of actions-lever, bolt, pump, autoloader and muzzleloader.
The 1991 survey indicated that 68 percent of deer hunters used a .30 caliber rifle (.30-.30, .308, .30-06, etc.). Other popular deer calibers included the .270 (11 percent) and the .243 (9 percent).
The .30-.30 has probably killed more deer in the United States than any other cartridge. Since World War I, however, the .30-06 has become the most popular cartridge nationwide; ammunition is available nearly everywhere in a wide range of bullet weights and loadings. Since white-tailed deer are relatively thin-skinned, light-framed animals, there is little need for the heavier rifles- those in the .358 or .375 class or larger. Recoil from these guns is often so heavy that inexperienced shooters cannot use them with much success.
The best deer rifle is the one that any given hunter can shoot best. There are lots of wild stories and myths about the power of big-game rifles, and most of these big guns are vastly overrated in their supposed killing power. A well-placed bullet of adequate weight and velocity will put a deer down to stay, and a poorly placed bullet, no matter how large, is the first step toward a wounded, lost animal. No high-powered cartridge is a substitute for good, accurate shooting.
In recent years, the majority of serious deer hunters have chosen rifles in the .243, 6mm, .270, .30-.30, .308 and .30-06 class. These cartridges develop relatively light recoil, which makes them fairly easy to shoot accurately. I personally prefer a 7 MM Mag or a 300 Win Mag. I simply like a lot of gun. Big guns make up for bad shots on many occasions and afford the hunter a longer distance to shoot.
Whatever rifle you choose, try it out thoroughly before deer season. Sight it in carefully, and fire enough rounds on the shooting range to become accustomed to the recoil, the muzzle blast and the handling characteristics. Open sights are standard equipment on most rifles when they come from the factory and, therefore, are the type used by many hunters. A peep or telescopic sight may be more satisfactory for the beginner. Most authorities agree that the peep sight is faster and more accurate than the open sight and it forces the beginner to get his or her cheek down on the stock of the gun when aiming. However, in the dim light of early morning or in heavy woods, it may be hard to see through the peep if the aperture is less than 1/8-inch in diameter. With a gun never skimp on a scope or it can cost you the whitetail deer of a lifetime.
Because of its light-gathering qualities, a good scope is a distinct advantage in dim light. For Missouri conditions, a 2- to 4-power scope is an excellent addition to a deer-hunting rifle, especially for the beginner or older hunter whose eyes may have trouble adjusting to open or peep sights. Scopes of over 4-power magnification not only are unnecessary in Missouri but may be a handicap because over-magnification may show only a patch of hair and adversely affect the hunter's ability to place the bullet well. A variable power scope should be considered if the hunter plans to also shoot varmints or hunt big game out West.
The choice of other equipment can be as important as the choice of rifle when Missouri Whitetail Deer Hunting. Proper equipment will make your hunt more enjoyable and directly assist you in bagging your Missouri deer. Advance preparation will certainly make the chore of field dressing and handling a deer much easier. The first consideration should be proper clothing. Clothing should be comfortable but not too warm. It is best to dress in layers so that you can be warm in the pre-dawn chill, but be able to remove sweaters or wool shirts in the heat of the midday sun.
Regulations require that during the firearms deer season all hunters must wear a hat and shirt, vest or coat of hunter orange (also known as daylight fluorescent orange or blaze orange) so that the color is plainly visible from all sides while being worn. Camouflage orange does not satisfy this requirement. Do not carry a white handkerchief; a careless hunter might mistake it for the tail of a deer when you pull it out of your pocket.
Good boots are necessary for walking over rough country. For sitting still in cold weather, a pair of insulated rubber boots or felt pacs is recommended. A deer can be field dressed with a sharp pocket knife, but the job is easier with a sharp, stout knife having a straight, relatively thin, 4- to 6-inch blade with a dropped point. A saw or light hand ax and sledgehammer also are handy for splitting the pelvic girdle and chest cavity.
Comfortable clothing, a loaded rifle and a sharp knife, along with the appropriate deer hunting permit, are the only really essential items for a successful deer hunt. That’s all the equipment many Missouri Whitetail deerhunters carry because they do not plan to go very far from their vehicle. Some additional items you might want to carry include:
• raincoat or poncho for rainy weather or as a windbreak on a stand
• flashlight for finding your stand in pre-dawn darkness
• topographic map of the area, compass or global positioning systems for locating stands and navigating in the woods
• 15-foot length of stout rope for dragging a deer, hoisting your unloaded rifle into a tree stand or for emergencies
• latex or rubber gloves to protect your hands while field dressing a deer
• strong plastic bag for a sanitary, bloodproof container for the heart and liver of your deer
• piece of cheesecloth or muslin to cover the body cavity of a field-dressed deer and protect it from insects in warm weather
• binoculars, which are especially important if you are hunting areas with special regulations such as an antler-point restriction
These items can be stuffed into your pockets, but a small backpack or beltpack can also be used. The bag also is a good place to carry your lunch and extra clothing, and it leaves both hands free for handling the rifle. If you hunt like I do you carry everything in but the kitchen sink and camp out for the day. Hunting all day is your best bet on scoring on a Missouri Whitetail Buck which may meet the standards of the Boone and Crockett Record Books.
A new hunter can secure the advice and assistance of a landowner or experienced deer hunter who will know which areas deer are using at the time, the location of the best crossings and the probable movement pattern of deer through the area, however nothing is more advantageous than booking with an credible Missouri Whitetail Outfitter.
Most whitetail deerhunters in Missouri hunt from a stand, at least during early morning and late afternoon. A good stand is located where deer will pass in going about their daily routine of feeding, watering and resting. And during late October through November, deer show increased activity associated with the breeding season.
Deer are creatures of habit and follow nearly the same routes in going from feeding areas to water to resting areas. In areas with many deer, their daily movements make clearly defined paths. The point where two paths cross is an excellent place for a stand because it doubles the hunter’s chances. Always place your stand so the wind will blow your scent away from the path or crossing. Sitting with your back against a tree or rock will help to break up your silhouette, but remaining motionless is more important than concealment.
Another good location for a stand is the edge of a field or forest clearing where deer come to feed in the early evening or early morning. A permanent or portable tree stand or the increasingly popular metal ladder stand overlooking a clearing usually provides good deer hunting. A hunter in a tree stand can see better over a larger area, and is less likely to be detected by the deer. For safety’s sake, never climb into a tree stand with a loaded gun and always wear a safety harness.
The secret of hunting from any stand is to sit still, stay alert and stay on the stand. This type of hunting requires a lot of patience. Patience is hard to maintain on a cold November morning. Few hunters actually stay on the stand for more than three or four hours. Observations from airplanes indicate that by 9 a.m. most of the hunters are beginning to move through the woods and are resorting to still-hunting. Another name for still-hunting is stalking. As the name implies, the hunter moves as slowly and quietly as possible through the woods, hoping to see a deer before it sees him or her. This technique works best with snow on the ground or when the leaves are wet from rain. It is very difficult to move quietly through several inches of dry oak leaves. This method often results in the hunter seeing a lot of white flags disappearing over the ridge top, but not much venison. Some wise guy on a stand will probably kill the deer that is sneaking along ahead of you.
An organized deer drive is a technique sometimes used in large tracts of timber in the Ozarks or on smaller tracts in northern Missouri. This method requires coordination and cooperation to ensure safety and often times do more harm than good as they run deer out of certain areas and only afford running shots at good deer. One or more hunters, designated as “shooters,” are placed on stands where deer are likely to cross when pushed by the “drivers.” Drivers are other hunters in the party that move through a part of the hunting area in an attempt to push deer toward the shooters. It is critical that all shooters know the locations of other shooters and also the direction from which the drivers will come. This allows the shooters to determine safe lines-of-fire. Shooters must not leave their stands until the drive is over, and the drivers must stay in line and not stray from their predetermined approach. Knowing the location of others participating in the drive is the key to a successful and, more importantly, safe hunt.
No matter which system of hunting you use, be quiet but alert and be sure of your target before shooting. Your target on a deer should be the chest. Shots in the head or spine will drop a deer in its tracks, but the target is small and the average hunter is wiser to shoot at the chest. A shot in the chest may not drop the animal immediately, but is usually fatal.
“Hold low” is an old slogan among deer hunters. There are several good reasons for this idea. The heart of a deer is located in the lower third of the chest about 4 inches behind the elbow of the front leg. If the hunter is excited and does not get his or her cheek down on the rifle stock, the bullet will hit higher than the point of aim. Also, most hunters do not realize that the average deer is only about 3 feet tall at the shoulder.
The point of aim for a deer standing broadside should be slightly behind and above the elbow of the front leg. Aiming at this point gives an allowance for error of several inches in all directions. Aim at the base of the neck on a deer facing you. Extreme uphill and downhill shots should be aimed a little low. If the deer’s racing directly from you, let him go. You’ll probably shoot at his flag and miss him anyway. A running deer is a difficult target and not suggested for beginners.
Archery Deer Hunting in Missouri
Missouri Archery deer hunting is one of the fastest-growing sports in Missouri. Only 73 archers participated in the first archery season in 1946, a three-day, bucks-only season in Crawford County. Currently, approximately 100,000 archers participate in a 96-day, statewide any-deer season and typically harvest more than 20,000 deer.
Many Missouri whitetail deer archers previously hunted with a gun but took up the bow because they wanted more of a challenge. In addition, the three-month archery season provides a longer time to enjoy the hunt. Also, the two deer taken on an Archer's Hunting Permit are in addition to deer taken on Firearms Deer Permits. Whatever their reasons for pursuing deer with bow and arrow, these hunters are knowingly handicapping themselves. Because of this handicap they must learn more about deer; in the process they will become better deer hunters. Archers must be able to get close to their targets, since accuracy with a bow declines rapidly beyond 30 yards. Most deer killed with arrows are shot at 20 yards or less. Missouri Deer Hunting with a bow is some of the best bowhuting in the United States without a doubt.
How does an archer get so close to a deer? The advice from one archer of long experience and some success is: "Go often, go to the same place each time and use a tree blind." Most archers hunt from tree stands about 15 to 20 feet high. The general rules for location of the stand and hunting techniques for Missouri Whitetail Deer Hunting, are similar to those suggested for the gun hunter, but some additional techniques are needed. The archer must be especially aware of wind direction. Some archers tie a six-inch length of thread to the upper limb of their bow, to serve as a miniature windsock.
Archers sometimes build a blind of natural vegetation. The blind should blend with the surroundings, but it does not need to be as solid as a duck blind. It should be roomy enough for the archer to draw a bow without hindrance and should be about shoulder-high when the archer is sitting on a small stool or other seat. Remember though that sitting on the ground definitely decreased your odds of success dramatically and is not recommended by professional hunters in Midwestern States like Missouri Whitetail Deer Hunting.
In contrast to the bright clothing worn by the hunter with a gun, the archer should wear dark-colored clothing (preferably of a camouflage design) which will blend with the surroundings. Some archers use camouflage paint or burned cork to darken their face and hands. However, under some circumstances, archers are required to wear hunter orange.
The experts also suggest that archers pace off the distance to the point where they expect to shoot at a deer, check the anticipated flight path of the arrow and trim away branches or small twigs that might deflect an arrow. A sharp saw and a rangefinder can make the task much easier.
What equipment is needed? Basically, a bow, a half-dozen practice arrows, a half-dozen hunting arrows, a quiver, an arm guard and a finger tab or glove. Upgraded archery equipment can be obtained at the local pro hunt shop. I would recommend cutting no corners on archery equipment.
Hunting bows are of three types: straight (longbow), recurved and compound. They are made from a variety of materials including metals, woods and fiberglass. Bows are classed according to the amount of pull (in pounds) that is required to draw the string to 28 inches. Most hunters in Missouri use a bow with a pull of 50/60 pounds. The compound bow is a relatively recent innovation that was developed in Missouri. It uses a system of pulleys to relax draw weight at full draw by as much as 85 percent. Arrows shot from a compound have a flatter trajectory and are faster than those shot from a comparable recurved bow. The majority of today's archers use compound bows.
Beginning archers tend to select a bow that is too strong for them. The best way to pick a bow is to visit an organized archery club and get the advice of experienced archers. Also, at the club you will be able to examine many different kinds of bows and choose the type best suited for you. Hunting arrows are made of wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber or aluminum and are tipped with razor-sharp cutting heads called broadheads. The arrow kills by causing hemorrhage, so the blades should be kept as sharp as possible. Practice arrows and hunting arrows should be of the same weight and both should be matched to the strength of the bow.
A back quiver or leg quiver is fine for target shooting, but most hunters prefer the bow quiver which holds extra arrows on the bow ready for fast reloading.
Target practice is even more important to the archer than to the hunter with a gun. This practice is much easier to come by, however, because you can shoot at a sturdy backstop in your yard. It is also cheaper because the arrows can be used over and over again. Practice until you can put that first arrow into a 6-inch circle at 30 yards, then try shooting at targets downhill and uphill. The field range of an organized club is a good place to learn to hit targets at different distances and different elevations.
There are many reasons for using elevated tree stands. They offer a better vantage point, a larger field of view and an earlier view of game. However, they also are a major cause of accidents during the deer hunting season.
The National Bowhunter Education Foundation recommends the following safety tips to reduce the risk of hunting from elevated tree stands:
• Practice with your stand at ground level, gradually going higher. Several Conservation Department shooting ranges and outdoor education centers have practice poles for free public use.
• Know the proper procedure for securing the stand to a tree and how to use the stand properly.
• Read the manufacturer’s warnings and instructions before each season.
• Use only stands that meet standards of the Treestand Manufacturer’s Association (TMA) rated for your weight and all gear or equipment you wear or have with you on the stand.
• Always use a fall arrest system that meets TMA standards, which includes a full-body harness rated for your weight and any gear you wear or attach to yourself.
• Have your fall arrest system attached to the tree from the moment you leave the ground, throughout the hunt and when you descend to the ground.
• Always position yourself so that you step down onto your tree stand to test its stability.
• Always use a haul line to raise and lower your gear, including unloaded firearms, bows and arrows.
Hunting Trophy Whitetail Bucks in the State of Missouri
Missouri Deer hunting is indeed an exciting sport and trophies are popular reminders of successful days afield. Head mounts, racks and hides are the most common deer hunting trophies. However, deer legs are often used as gun racks, lamp bases and bookends. Hides also can be used to make items of clothing, wallets and purses. Whether you decide to make your own trophy or leave the job to a professional, the way you handle your deer from the moment it is downed will affect the quality of the product.
For instance, if you plan to mount your deer head, do not cut the animal’s throat. In fact, make no cuts in the head and neck region other than those indicated in the following diagram. This method of skinning will allow plenty of hide for a full head-neck-and-shoulder mount. After skinning, sever the head from the neck and take head, antlers and hide to your taxidermist. If you anticipate any trouble, you might let your taxidermist or Missouri Whitetail Outfitter tackle the caping chore.
Another method of displaying antlers that is inexpensive, yet attractive, is to attach them directly to a backboard or wall. Simply saw off a good, solid section of skull with the antlers and fasten through a hole drilled in the middle. Deer hide or felt can be used to
cover the skull-plate, if desired. I must say that its my opinion trophy deer demand a little more than a backboard display or a european mount. Take the time to and pay the extra money to mount the deer you worked so hard for, especially if he meets the standards for the Pope and Young or Boone and Crockett Record Books.
If you plan to have the hide processed, remove all the flesh and fat from the skin with a dull knife while the skin is fresh. If you cannot work on the skin when it is fresh, freeze it until you are ready and then allow it to thaw. Then rub salt onto the flesh side and roll it up, flesh side in and send it off to the processor.
A list of licensed taxidermists is available on request from the Conservation Department. There also are a number of reputable companies that will process your deer hides if you do not want to do it yourself.
The Missouri Show-Me Big Bucks Club is a statewide organization affiliated with the Boone and Crockett Club. The purposes of the club are: to officially recognize Missouri trophy deer heads and to honor the successful hunter; to promote interest in and appreciation for Missouri deer hunting; to promote sportsmanship among deer hunters; to establish and maintain a permanent record of trophy deer heads taken in Missouri; and to assist eligible members to receive national recognition from the Boone and Crockett Club.
Membership in the club is available to any hunter who has, during any legal hunting season, taken a trophy that meets the standards of the club. Scoring is based on the system of measurements developed by the Boone and Crockett Club. Official club scorers are located throughout the state. Membership in the Show- Me Big Bucks Club will be based on scores submitted by the official club scorers, verified if necessary by officials of the club. Minimum scores for membership are 140 points for typical and 155 points for non-typical deer taken statewide. Other organizations also keep records of antler points, such as Archery Big Bucks of Missouri and Pope and Young Club.
Many beautiful racks of antlers are taken in Missouri each fall. Larry Gibson (see page 19) took our best typical trophy head in 1971 in Randolph County. The antlers scored 205 points on the Boone and Crockett system and ranked third in the latest edition of the club’s records of North American Big Game. The world-record non-typical whitetail was found in St. Louis County in 1981. It scored 333 7/8.
Do you have a record set of antlers? A score of more than 140 is exceptional and should be entered in the record book. Go to www.boone-crockett.org and score your deer’s rack according to the instructions on the official score sheet or have your Missouri Whitetail Outfitter perform this feat for you. A good outfitter will have a scorer on staff to assist you.
Field Dressing your Whitetail Deer
A deer down is not necessarily a deer dead, so reload and watch the deer from a short distance. If you do not detect movement for a few minutes, approach cautiously from behind the deer’s head. Set your firearm or bow aside only after you are certain the deer is dead. If the eye does not blink when touched with a stick, it’s yours. Now is the time to fix your deer transportation tag securely around the hind leg.
Field dress the deer immediately to ensure a rapid loss of body heat. Hang the animal head-up or lay it on a slope with the rump lower than shoulders.
Strong juices from the paunch will taint the meat and should be removed if the animal was gut shot or if you accidentally cut the paunch while field dressing the deer. A rag or bunches of leaves may be used to wipe out the juices or they may be washed out with water. Some articles state the carcass should not be washed with water, because of the potential to promote bacterial growth. However, thorough cleaning when the paunch has been punctured makes washing and then patting the cavity dry an appropriate procedure.
A piece of cloth wrapped around the carcass will keep out flies and dirt as you drag it out of the woods or transport it.
The carcass should be dragged or carted out of the woods and not carried on your shoulders. A deer on the shoulders could invite a shot by another hunter. The antlers of a buck make a good handle for dragging. Some hunters tie the front feet behind the head of the carcass to keep them from catching on brush. A strong stick between the hind hocks will provide a good handle for dragging does or fawns. There also are many commercially produced deer carts, which are used by an increasing number of hunters.
The deer should be kept as clean and as cool as possible during transport. A plastic bag full of ice placed inside the carcass will keep it cool if you have a long trip home.
Missouri Whitetail Outfitters
As aforementioned the State of Missouri has only a few dozen outfitters. Of them very few are located in the three best counties within the State which include Macon, Shelby, and Knox. In fact the only credible Missouri Whitetail Outfitter I know I all three of these counties is IMB Outfitters. They can be seen on www.imbmonsterbucks.com or phoned toll free at 866-855-7063. Enjoy the hunt of a lifetime and remember not to forget the #1, Sleeper State in the United States for truly huge whitetail bucks……………………………………MISSOURI!