The opening weekend of the 2011 muzzleloader season was one to remember for Sallie Burch of Stockton, Mo.

The opening weekend of the 2011 muzzleloader season was one to remember for Sallie Burch of Stockton, Mo.

She shot a muzzleloader rifle for the first time and bagged a doe that appeared some 30 yards away.

While hunting with Jeff Hendricks in Cedar County, Burch was on her first muzzleloader hunt but had taken an eight-point buck earlier in the firearms season.

“We hadn’t been afield more than an hour when we spotted two does,” Burch said. “Jeff dropped one of the deer, and the other one came back and was only about 30 yards in front of us. Jeff said to shoot and, although I had never shot a muzzleloader before, I pulled back the hammer and we had two deer on the opening weekend of the muzzleloader portion of the firearm deer season.”

The muzzleloader portion opened Dec. 17 runs through Tuesday. Hunters took 6,244 deer the first weekend, with Oregon County checking in 147 and Howell 122 to top the list. Jackson County had 27 deer checked on the opening weekend. Last year, hunters took 12,940 deer while 15,907 were harvested in 2009.

Larry Bowman of Springfield has used a muzzleloader for years.

“I have shot squirrel and rabbits as well as deer with my muzzleloader rifle and have gotten so addicted to using it that I don’t bother hunting with my .30-06 much anymore.”

NOT YOUR TYPICAL DECEMBER: With a unusual December so far, Tom Davenport of Harrisonville, said, “Last weekend it seemed more like May than December. I guess that might have been because I was standing in the Sac River pulling out crappie and a 4-pound walleye. In all my millions of fishing trips, I don’t recall such good fishing in December as I have this month. A few days earlier I hauled in 24 crappie while standing in the same spot. It was an early Christmas present, I guess.”

In a month that is usually reserved for hunting, more and more anglers have been out and having success. Davenport had usually hunted ducks this month, but when he heard the crappie were hitting at the Lake of the Ozarks, he took his ultralight fishing gear and some small jigs with him on his trip to the duck blind the next time out.

After the morning flight of ducks had come and gone, he started fishing. By the time he was ready for the late flight, he had 12 nice crappie and two keeper bass to go along with the four mallards he had shot.

“I had never done anything like that before,” he said.