Hunting seasons are popping up like spring mushrooms and, as the month moves on, Missouri bowhunters are in the woods after deer and turkey because their season opened Sept. 15.

Hunting seasons are popping up like spring mushrooms and, as the month moves on, Missouri bowhunters are in the woods after deer and turkey because their season opened Sept. 15.

It was 64 years ago when the first archery season opened for deer hunting with 73 permits sold. It was a three-day season with only one county (Crawford) open and bowhunters could only hunt bucks. However, no deer were harvested.

It wasn’t until four years later that a deer was taken, and that was a deer taken by Hugh Collins in Taney County. There were 64 archery permits sold that year.

Today archers have a statewide season that runs through Jan. 15, closed only during the firearms season. There will be more than 100,000 bow hunters afield this season.

Although rain hampered many hunters on opening day, hunters reported seeing lots of deer. Gene Black of Goodson, Mo., said he saw three deer and had a 6-point buck near his blind.

“There are a lot of small deer that I have passed up while looking for that big buck to come close enough for a shot,” Black said “It’s a long season, so I’m in no big hurry.”

Bob Lewis of Carthage is an avid archer who has bagged 14 deer with his bow.

“There are more deer in the state today than I thought possible when I first started hunting,” Lewis said. “Since opening day on Sept. 15, I have hunted every day and have seen 27 deer. I got off two shots, but I’m still waiting for a monster buck I saw last week. I passed up some easy shots at deer that came close to my stand and they stayed around for up to 15 minutes. It’s great to be back in the deer woods this month.”

Lewis, like most serious archery deer hunters, start getting ready for the season weeks before the actual opening of the season.

“When I am out earlier in the month, I find scrapes that are usually made by dominant bucks,” Lewis said. “I know they won’t move out, so they should be around opening day. I carry a doe-in-heat lure with me and pour it on scrapes as often as I can, usually every week. When it’s time to hunt, I set up my tree stand and wait. This kind of hunting is good all day, not just the first few hours or the last two, because during the rut, a buck will check the scrapes at any time, so you need to be ready.”

Of the 14 deer Lewis has taken, 12 of them were within 30 yards of scrapes he was watching and had “doctored up” prior to opening day.

“You aren’t going to see a lot of sex-crazed bucks running to your stand because they are still cautious, and if you aren’t ready, you won’t tag any of them,” Lewis said. “However, if you stay within the basics by proper scouting and locating your stand carefully, it will pay off. It always has for me.”

Rex Parker of Columbia is another archer who has shot deer from Schuyler County to Stone County. He has a goal for the 64th anniversary of bowhunting in the state – he wants to take a big buck he has watched for several years.

“This buck is a lot larger than any I have ever seen. Last year I came within 60 yards of him, but couldn’t get a shot,” Parker said. “Several other archers told me they had also been watching him but never got a shot because something always went wrong. I first spotted that buck three years ago while dove hunting near a cornfield. He walked out of some timber, and I thought it was an elk, it looked so large. For me, nothing would be better to celebrate the 64th anniversary of bowhunting in the state than to bring home that big buck.”

Bowhunting for deer and turkey is the passion for those who treasure solitude. There’s just no need for the customary hullabloo created by the gun season, the archers say. Their season, which opened Sept. 15, has a growing number of bowhunters excited. The population of deer is high, and hunter success is also high.

“It is so different from the gun season,” said Jack Livingston, a veteran bowhunter from Harrisonville. “You have to understand the ways of the animals. It’s more like pure hunting. It’s a real challenge. You have to prepare yourself and practice with your bow. Not many bowhunters just grab their bow for the first time in a year and head for the deer woods.”

In bowhunting deer or turkey, patience is a necessity, never mind a virtue. You will see a lot of deer, but that doesn’t mean you will get a lot of shots. A gun hunter can try a long shot with a reasonable hope of success. It’s not that way with the archery hunter. The deer must be within at least 40 yards and a kill shot is a necessity.

Considering the state deer herd is nearly a million animals and there are enough turkeys to make many Thanksgiving dinners, archery hunters have a lot to look forward to this fall.