Preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation shows that young hunters ages 6-15 harvested nearly 15,600 deer statewide, including 343 deer in Franklin County, on the opening weekend of the youth season. 

The county ranks first in the state for the most deer killed, which Conservation Agent Todd Wright says is a credit to ideal weather conditions and the region’s bountiful habitat.

“Again, with Franklin County we are lucky, or blessed depending on how you look at it, to have such good resources for our deer and turkey populations,” Wright said. “We also have a lot of participation from hunters and outdoorsmen.”

During the opening weekend, hunters in the county reported killing 207 antlered bucks, 31 button bucks and 105 does. 

Hunters in Howell County, near the Arkansas border, reported the second highest number of harvested deer with 327. Osage County was third with 325 deer. 

Counties adjacent to Franklin County also had strong hunts, according to the conservation department. 

Gasconade County ranked eighth after the opening weekend. Hunters there reported killing 254 deer, including 179 antlered bucks, 22 button bucks, and 53 does. 

Reports from other counties were: Jefferson County, 197 deer; Crawford County, 164 deer; Washington County, 161 deer; Warren County, 125 deer; St. Charles County, 60 deer; and St. Louis County, 23 deer. 

“It has been a good year for hunting. The weather was perfect this weekend. If it was too cold then it is hard to keep the young hunters in the stand for very long, but we had warm enough weather that the hunters felt comfortable staying in the woods. It was also cool enough that the deer were up and moving,” Wright said.  

Wright said Franklin County’s proximity to the St. Louis metro area and the prevalence of century family-owned farms also play a role in the strong hunting report. 

“If you are going to look for a spot to go hunting, you are going to be looking for a county like Franklin County that is always high in the number of deer harvested. Our hunting numbers really do attract people from everywhere, including out of state,” Wright said. 

Last year, Franklin County finished the early youth hunt portion of the deer season ranked third. In 2019, 351 deer were killed during the opening weekend of the youth season, which was up from 266 deer the previous year. 

Last year, youth hunters harvested 18,289 deer statewide. 

In fact, Wright says he believes the good fortune of Franklin County hunters will continue through the traditional firearms season later this month. 

“The weather is looking good, which is always a key factor,” Wright said. “I don’t see any big storms on the future forecast. I know we have a good population of deer in the area, the rut, or mating season, will still be going strong, so I think it will be another successful hunting season.”

Missouri's deer archery season continues through Nov. 13 and resumes Nov. 25 through Jan. 15.

The November portion of firearms deer season runs Nov. 14-24 followed by the late youth portion Nov. 27-29.

The antlerless portion of firearms deer season runs Dec. 4-6, followed by the alternative methods portion Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.