The Missouri Department of Conservation has investigated a photo published in The Missourian featuring a 2-year-old posed with a freshly killed buck with the caption stating the toddler killed the deer on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Because of the age of the hunter, the photo has generated more than 20 complaints to the state agency. It was investigated and Conservation Agent Todd Wright says there was no wrongdoing found.
“The deer was legally harvested by the child’s father during archery season,” Wright told The Missourian Wednesday morning. “The father thought it would be amusing to put his son with the deer in the photo.”
Wright added everything associated with the archery kill followed all rules and regulations, including the phone deer tag reporting system, Telecheck. There are no violations and no citations of any kind were issued to the father.
A portion of the bow used to kill the deer can be seen in the photograph submitted to The Missourian.
Wright added the father, whose name he would not release, told him he has posed similar photos with harvested deer since the child was 6 months old.
“The photo has created quite an uproar all over the state,” Wright said. “There are a lot of people that are really upset.”
Complaint calls came in not only in Franklin County but Conservation agents from St. Louis County were contacted as well.
Calls about the photo were also made to the Conservation department in Jefferson City and three or four calls to the statewide Operation Game Thief hotline.
“We have to follow up on each one of those calls,” Wright said. “This photo generated a lot of unnecessary work at an already busy time of year.”
According to Missouri state hunting laws, to participate in the youth hunting season, hunters must be at least 6 and no older than 15.
Every year The Missourian publishes submitted photos of youth hunters with the deer for a charge of $10.