With a little luck and a bit more ambition, I may have added to Jefferson County’s archery deer harvest tally. For the tenth consecutive year, Jefferson County maintained its reign as the top county in the state with 1,563 reported to the state’s Telecheck system. The total is below the record setting 1,645 from last year, but lower numbers were the standard statewide.
Missouri’s archery harvest unofficially reached 60,834 compared to 67,487 in the 2020-21 season. This year’s archery deer harvest total was 10% below last year’s record harvest, yet it was 8% higher than the previous five-year average.
While I did add a deer to the county’s total in early November. I passed on a chance to hunt one more time on the last day of the season. After a full day of farm work, I opted for a shower and rest over spending the remains of the day in the woods. The trail camera within 20 yards of my stand captured three pictures of a nice buck standing around just before the season officially closed.
Jefferson continues to hold on to the top spot based on the combination of a large number of hunters and quality deer habitat. St. Louis County gets its boost because archery is the preferred or only permitted method for much of St. Louis County. Geographically, Franklin and Callaway are two of the largest counties in Missouri.
St. Louis County
Last year hunters in 10 counties harvested more than 1,000 deer during the four-month archery season, which runs from Sept. 15 through Jan. 15 each year. This season, only Jefferson, St. Louis, Franklin and Callaway counties reported totals above four digits.
The first time that any county topped 1,000 deer taken by bowhunters was the last time Jefferson did not lead the state. In 2011 Jackson County’s 1,026 topped Jefferson’s 1,016. Our home county has reached four digits every season since. Jackson (near Kansas City) has not been over 1,000 again.
The archery season success boosted Jefferson County’s total for all segments of the fall deer hunting season above 5,000. The unofficial total of 5,058 ranks fourth behind Franklin, Texas and Callaway counties.
For deer harvest summaries from past years, visit the state Department of Conservation website.
The overall totals include two youth seasons, the anterless portion, an alternative methods season that ran from Dec. 25 through Jan. 4, and the November portion. Young hunters in Jefferson County checked 235 deer in their two segments. The antlerless portion accounted for 225 deer locally. During the alternative methods season 165 deer were reported here, and in the November portion the county total was 2,869.
The online Telecheck tracker reported a statewide harvest total for all portions of 293,656 deer. That is slightly below last year’s 297,214 final official report, but it is the second highest overall total in the past five years.