How Hunters Fared in Missouri’s First-Ever Bear Hunt

by Jonathan Howard

For the first time ever, Missouri had its first bear hunt. Populations have been rising in the state for years, now, hunters can help keep it under control. Missouri hunters were able to successfully get a few animals harvested during the hunting season.

Out of 40 potential bears, 12 were harvested. Numbers from the Missouri Department of Conservation were revealed via press release. The season ran from October 18-27. Before the season started, thousands of hunters applied for permits. There were only 400 available so almost 6,000 hunters missed out on being selected.

If the threshold of 40 had been met, the season would have been shut down early. There were three zones that hunters participated in. The first zone had 200 permits and 20 bears up for grabs. Then, the second zone had 150 permits and 15 bears. That left the last zone with 50 permits and 5 bears. Permits were granted through a random drawing after a $25 application fee.

In the press release, Black Bear Biologist, Laura Conlee said, “Our highly regulated and limited season included a sustainable maximum harvest of 40 bears, which is about 5% of our total bear population. We also prohibited baiting and the use of dogs, limited hunting to 10 days, and restricted the number of hunters who could participate. With any new season, it is difficult to predict hunter success, so we took a conservative approach to limiting the number of hunters and length of the hunting season. This was to ensure we didn’t overharvest the bear population in any one zone.”

Missouri hunters were able to get a dozen black bears. Well under the limit of 40 for the season. It seems that the Show-Me State has shown they know what they are doing with this new hunting season.

Missouri Bear Hunter Landed Big Prize During Season

During the 10 day season, there were a couple of handfuls of hunters that found success. Bears, especially black bears are good at remaining elusive. It is not easy prey. Also, only bears that are lone were able to be harvested. Hunters were under strict orders not to take a bear in the presence of others. That included females with cubs. However, for one Missouri hunter, Kelsie Wikoff of Hume, things were great on the hunt.

By the time that Wikoff was done, she had landed herself a male bear weighing 268 pounds. She took the bear down in Zone 1, the zone with the most permits and most bears. The hunter worked hard for her kill, too. She had to spend 48 hours total in the stand over the course of a three-day period. She was out from October 18-21 and finally, her patience paid off.