SPRINGFIELD — If you hit a deer with your car, there is a way you can legally take it home and eat it.
We are a week away from the main portion of firearms season for deer hunting here in Missouri, and hunters across the Ozarks are ready to stock the freezer with deer meat.
It is not uncommon for people to hit a deer with their vehicle here in the Show-Me State. If you want to take it home, all you need is a Wildlife Dispensation Permit from the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Deer are an animal that Missouri Motorists need to be wary of. Sergeant Jason Pace and the Missouri State Highway Patrol see crashes involving deer all too often.
“Last year in our state we experienced over 4,600 traffic crashes where a car or truck struck a deer,” Sgt. Pace says. “This included 455 injuries, and six people actually lost their lives as a result of hitting a deer.”
Striking a deer not an ideal situation for a number of reasons. However, it could be a way to put food on the table. Now before you get any ideas, this isn’t a substitute for hunting.
Francis Skalicky of the Missouri Department of Conservation says like hunting, you will still need a permit to take that deer home.
“If someone comes upon a carcass that has been killed from some type of vehicular accident, and they want to take possession of it, they can,” Skalicky says. “You have to have a record for every deer that you take possession of. This is just that record. You didn’t kill it by hunting, but you obtained it through the method of the Wildlife Dispensation Permit.”
Skalicky says in this situation, the decision to take the deer home is completely up to you.
“If you feel that there is good meat on there that you can harvest that you can cut away from that carcass, that isn’t damaged from the accident that killed it, then that’s fine,” Skalicky explains.
But here is the kicker: if you aren’t sure about the quality of meat, it’s probably best to just leave it because there will be nobody to ensure that that deer is safe to consume.
“We don’t come out and do a meat value assessment,” Skalicky says. “We let the person taking the deer be the judge of their own situation with that.”
If you find your self in this situation, it’s important to know that the Wildlife Dispensation permit is free. All you need to do is contact the Missouri Department of Conservation, obtain the permit, and you are free to harvest that deer.