Answering reader email about hunting deer

Every fall my office gets lots of calls and emails from new deer hunters asking about Missouri law, as well as some general “do’s and don’ts” as it relates to deer hunting.

I decided to take a few of those questions to Francis Skalicky, the media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) southwest region, out of Springfield.

Here are the questions posed by our readers, followed by his answers:

Q: If I see a deer that is limping, or otherwise appears sick or unhealthy for some reason, what should I do? Should I leave it alone and just report the location, or shoot it dead and then call and report it, or go ahead and shoot it and try to harvest it for myself if I think the meat looks OK?

A: In answer to your first question, if someone sees a sick deer, they can report it to their nearest MDC office or to their county conservation agent.

If you don’t have the phone number of your county’s conservation agent, you can either call your nearest Missouri Department of Conservation office or you can go to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website – – and along the top of the home page there is a “Contact and Engage” tab. (It’s the farthest right tab at the top of the page).

That’ll get you a drop-down menu of the counties of Missouri. Go to your county and your county’s conservation agent’s phone number will be listed there.

But back to your question… if you don’t want to harvest that deer for yourself, call your nearest MDC contact (office or agent) and yes, provide location and time of day when you saw it.

If you shoot the deer, you need to have a permit for it because that will count as a deer you harvested. And, no, you can’t shoot it, call an MDC agent or staff person and then let the deer lay where it is… that would very likely be a classified as a “wanton waste” wildlife violation and you would be ticketed for it.

And as far as your question about “putting down a deer, if they don’t want to harvest it,” again, the answer is no. Only shoot a deer if you have a permit to harvest that deer.

If there’s a concern about the deer, but you don’t want to kill it for yourself, call a conservation agent and let our staff take it from there.

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