The Missouri Department of Conservation reminds deer hunters that it will be again holding mandatory CWD sampling during the opening weekend of the November portion of firearms season, Nov. 11 and 12. Hunters who harvest deer in 39 MDC CWD Management Zone counties are required to take their harvested deer or the head on the day of harvest to one of MDC’s numerous mandatory CWD sampling stations located throughout the CWD Management Zone. Sampling and test results are free.
CWD Management Zone counties for mandatory CWD sampling are Adair, Barry, Barton, Bollinger, Caldwell, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, Dallas, Franklin, Gasconade, Grundy, Hickory, Jasper, Jefferson, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Madison, Montgomery, Oregon, Perry, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, Ray, Ripley, Schuyler, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Vernon, and Washington.
MDC designates counties where CWD has been found and counties within 10 miles of where CWD has been found as part of its CWD Management Zone.
CWD is a deadly, infectious disease in deer and other members of the deer family (cervids) that eventually kills all animals it infects. There is no vaccine or cure. CWD can be spread from direct deer-to-deer contact, through improper disposal of deer carcasses, and through the environment by deer contacting infectious material from other deer. Hunters play a critical role in helping MDC find and manage the disease by having their deer tested and following carcass-movement restrictions and other CWD regulations. Learn more at this link.
Mandatory CWD Sampling Nov. 11 and 12
“Mandatory CWD sampling significantly increases the number of tissue samples we can collect in a relatively short period of time,” said MDC Cervid Program Supervisor Jason Isabelle. “The large number of samples collected during mandatory CWD sampling gives us a solid understanding of the distribution and prevalence of the disease — where it is and how many deer may have it. It can also help us find new cases in new areas so disease management can begin as soon as possible to slow the spread of CWD and protect Missouri’s deer population.”
According to MDC, the opening weekend of the November portion of firearms deer season is the most popular two hunting days for most deer hunters in Missouri. Hunters take about a third of the state’s total annual deer harvest during those two days.
“Focusing on this key weekend gives us the best opportunity to collect the most tissue samples during a very concentrated time period,” said Isabelle.
He explained that hunters harvesting deer on Nov. 11 and 12 in counties where mandatory CWD sampling will occur can present their deer at a mandatory CWD sampling station within the county of harvest, or at a station in a different county if they follow the carcass movement restrictions. Deer that will end up being delivered to a licensed meat processor within 48 hours or deer heads that will be delivered to a licensed taxidermist within 48 hours may be transported to a sampling station in any county. For deer that will not be taken to a licensed taxidermist, hunters may also take the head to a mandatory CWD sampling station in another county as long as the head is left at the station after sampling.
Find mandatory CWD sampling station locations online at this link, or in MDC’s 2023 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold.
CWD sampling takes only a few minutes and consists of MDC staff cutting an incision across the neck of harvested deer to remove lymph nodes for testing. Tissue samples are sent to an independent lab for testing.
Hunters will be given a card with information on getting free test results for their deer after samples are processed. Hunters can get their CWD test results for free online at this link. While test results may take up to four weeks, most are available within two weeks.
Hunters presenting bucks bound for taxidermy should inform MDC staff. Staff will complete paperwork and inform the hunters about participating taxidermists taking CWD tissue samples. Another option is to remove the cape before taking the deer to a sampling station.
Before arriving at a mandatory CWD sampling station:
- Field dress and Telecheck deer.
- Bring the carcass or just the head.
- Capes may be removed in preparation for taxidermy prior to arriving at a station.
- Position deer in vehicles with head and neck easily accessible.
- Be sure the person who harvested the deer is present.
- Be prepared to find the location of the harvest on a map.
- If using a paper permit, have it detached from the deer for easy access.
- If using the MO Hunting app, have permit information available.
Carcass Movement Restrictions
Hunters must follow carcass-movement restrictions for deer harvested in CWD Management Zone counties:
- Deer must be Telechecked before any parts of the carcass may be transported out of the county of harvest.
- Whole carcasses may only be transported out of the county of harvest if delivered to a licensed meat processor within 48 hours of exiting the county of harvest.
- Deer heads containing muscle and brain tissue may only be transported out of the county of harvest if delivered to a licensed taxidermist or an approved CWD sampling station within 48 hours of exiting the county of harvest. However, on Nov. 11-12, for counties in which sampling is mandatory, deer, or the head, must be taken on the day of harvest to a mandatory CWD sampling station.
- The following carcass parts may be moved outside of the county of harvest without restriction:
- Meat that is cut and wrapped or that has been boned out.
- Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
- Hides from which all excess tissue has been removed.
- Antlers or antlers attached to skull plates or skulls cleaned of all muscle and brain tissue.
- Finished taxidermy products.
CWD Sampling and Testing All Season
“As part of our efforts to find cases of CWD early so management can be implemented quickly to help slow its spread, MDC is again offering free voluntary CWD sampling and testing of harvested deer during the entire deer season at select locations throughout the state, including some MDC offices and participating taxidermists and meat processors,” said Isabelle.
He added that MDC also offers self-service freezer head-drop locations within the CWD Management Zone for hunters to deposit harvested deer heads to have tested for CWD. Instructions, packing supplies, and information tags are available at the sites. Freezer head-drop stations will be closed on Nov. 11-12 in mandatory sampling counties when hunters must present their deer or deer head at a mandatory CWD sampling station. Freezer head-drop stations will remain open on Nov. 11-12 in CWD Management Zone counties where sampling is not mandatory. Get more information on sampling and head-drop locations online at this link.
Hunters can get their CWD test results for free online at this link. Results are available within four weeks or less from the time of sampling.
MDC Offices Closed Nov. 10
MDC offices will be closed for permit sales and other activities on Friday, Nov. 10, in recognition of Veterans Day. Shooting ranges will remain open. MDC regional offices and shooting ranges will be open on Saturday, Nov. 11.
MDC will provide a staffed customer-service call center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Friday, Nov. 10, through Sunday, Nov. 12, at 573-751-4115.
Buy Missouri hunting and fishing permits from numerous vendors around the state, online at this link, or through MDC’s free mobile app, MO Hunting, available for download through Google Play or the App Store.