Ozark County hunters harvest 861 deer on opening weekend

Couple has unforgettable deer hunt: Wyatt and Kiya Grisham had an unforgettable opening morning of deer season this year. Wyatt killed a nice 10-point buck on the Grisham farm off Highway 181 that he’s had his eye on through game camera photos for several months, but Kiya’s harvest was truly unforgettable. She killed an 8-point piebald buck, which has white and brown patchy fur, while hunting in Pontiac. “It’s a once in a lifetime buck,” she said. Albino deer and piebald deer, or partially albino deer, fall under the same regulations as normally colored animals, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. A 2019 Mossy Oak article says hunters have a one in 30,000 chance of seeing a true albino deer, whose recessive genetic traits keep it from having any coloration in its hair, tissue or skin, in the wild. Piebald deer, also caused by a genetic variation, are slightly more common; 2 percent of the current whitetail deer population are piebald.

A total of 861 deer were harvested in Ozark County Nov. 16-17 during opening weekend of the 2019 firearms deer season, including 252 does, 541 antlered bucks and 68 button bucks.

Figures for opening weekend of the 2018 weekend weren’t available, but the Missouri Department of Conservation website last year posted an unofficial total of 975 deer harvested during the first three days of the season. 

In 2017, 904 deer were harvested in Ozark County on opening weekend of firearms season.

Across the state, preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation shows that 88,843 deer were harvested in Missouri, down more than 10,000 from last year’s opening weekend total of 99,470. Top harvest counties for opening weekend were Franklin with 2,078 deer checked, Texas with 1,931 and Callaway with 1,735.

In 29 Missouri counties, including Ozark County, hunters were required to present their deer for mandatory sampling for chronic wasting disease during opening weekend. MDC sampling stations operated in Ozark County at Gainesville and Dora schools.

A.J. Pratt, MDC regional supervisor, said 642 deer were sampled in Ozark County over opening weekend. Although local harvest numbers and sampling numbers don’t match up, “that may not be a true reflection,” according to Pratt, who said some deer harvested in Ozark County may have been sampled at nearby stations in adjoining counties. The sampling station in Caulfield, in Howell County, processed a total of 238 deer, Pratt said, and the station at Mark Twain School in Taney County sampled 238.

“We appreciate those who brought their deer in to be checked; we appreciate their positive attitude,” said Pratt, who added that he hopes the sampling results will be available in four to six weeks. Pratt said MDC does its best to share information about mandatory sampling, but there are always cases of people being uninformed. 

Ozark County Conservation Agent Tom Leeker said failure to participate in the mandatory sampling is a violation of the wildlife code and could result in a ticket. 

Ozark County hunters who wish to have their deer tested for CWD during the rest of the season can contact Scott or Zach McKinzie of McKinzie Taxidermy, who are registered to take voluntary samples and will do so through Jan. 15. Contact McKinzie Taxidermy at 1-870-321-0379 or 1-870-321-3483 to make arrangements.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

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