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Missouri hunters killed more than 97,000 deer during the opening weekend of the November firearms season, over 16,000 more than last year.

Missouri's November firearms deer season is under way and opening weekend concluded Sunday.

As of noon Monday, preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation shows hunters across the state bagged 58,502 antlered bucks, 7,741 button bucks and 30,970 does for a total of 97,213 deer harvested.

The counties with the top harvests were: Franklin County with 2,069 deer, Texas County with 1,990 deer and Benton County with 1,786 deer as of noon Monday.

Area counties also fared well opening weekend with several having harvests of more than 1,000 deer.

Callaway County had the fourth highest harvest in the state with 1,681 deer, while Morgan County harvested 1,429 deer, Osage County had 1,383 deer and Miller County harvested 1,093 deer. Boone County had 960 deer, Moniteau County harvested 617 deer and Cole County had 596 deer, as of noon Monday.

Jason Isabelle, Missouri Department of Conservation cervid program supervisor, said the weather made for good hunting conditions during the weekend.

"Thankfully, the weather cooperated this weekend, and hunters were treated to some good conditions," Isabelle said. "Given the rain and gusty winds across much of the state during opening weekend last year, it isn't surprising that we saw an increase in harvest this year."

Missouri hunters killed an additional 16,469 deer from this time last year, when 80,744 deer were harvested during opening weekend.

With a total of 297,214 deer hunted during the course of the season, the opening weekend of the November portion made up 27 percent of last year's harvest.

Hunters usually harvest between a quarter to a third of the annual deer hunt during opening weekend and MDC officials are expecting a greater harvest this season because of growing deer populations and an extended antlerless season.

The state sampled more than 18,700 of the deer harvested for chronic wasting disease through MDC's mandatory sampling stations in 34 counties during opening weekend.

MDC will continue offering voluntary testing for CWD throughout the season.

The November portion of the firearms deer season lasts through Nov. 23.

The state's archery deer and turkey season returns Nov. 24 through Jan. 15 and the late youth portion of firearms season is Nov. 26-28. The antlerless portion of firearms deer season, which was extended this year, is Dec. 4-12 and is followed by the alternative methods portion Dec. 25 through Jan. 4.

Hunters can stay up to date with harvest totals by season, county and type of deer at extra.mdc.mo.gov/widgets/harvest_table.

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