Buck fever: Firearms deer season begins

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Missouri’s firearms deer season started this morning, and it’s the number one hunting activity in the state. People like Richard Black at Black Rock Arms in Bolivar have helped those with buck fever get what they need.

“We’ve been extremely busy for about the last three days,” Black said. “You get a lot of people looking for ammunition, wanting to site in their rifles. You know it’s just a huge upswing in sales.”

That economic impact is felt by businesses beyond the gun store.

“A lot of the restaurants, even some of the retail shops in the area,” Black said. “They end up having an uptick in sales just because of the people that are coming into the area to go hunting. It can be anything from shoes to sportswear.”

Francis Skalicky with the Missouri Department of Conservation says that is felt all over the state.

“Deer hunting is over a billion-dollar industry in Missouri, but that’s not just permits,” Skalicky said. “All those auxiliary expenses add up to over a billion dollars so it’s a big deal.”

Skalicky gets to deal with hunters after they harvest their buck or doe, as he is working one of the mandatory testing sites for Chronic Wasting Disease, a brain-wasting disease in deer that they have tracked since 2002.

“The neck is cut, lymph nodes are pulled because the disease appears early on in the lymph nodes,” Skalicky said.

The MDC gets the location of the kill and will let hunters know if their deer tests positive. They stayed busy.

“The one thing I’ve noticed is the deer numbers are high,” hunter Jared Stevenson said. “A lot of deer, more deer than I’ve ever seen.”

Stevenson and his friend are part of the hunting craze, and say it’s a feeling unlike any other.

“Just having the meat, you know exactly where it came from. It tastes better when you do it yourself. It’s a lot of fun,” Stevenson said. “He and I were hooting and hollering today, it was a great time. It’s really exciting to take a new hunter out, watch him kill his second deer, that’s just awesome.”

The department only tests on opening weekend due to the high number of deer taken at those times.

Since 2002, only 175 deer have tested positive, which Skalisky says is a good sign.

To find out if you are hunting in one of the mandatory CWD testing zones click here.

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