Hunters who happened to have a deer in their vehicle and be driving on Highway 54 near the Route F overpass in Fulton were pulled over during a "spot check" on Sunday.
Making 40 vehicle stops on the highway, agents of the Missouri Department of Conservation conducted the check from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. Sunday with the assistance of the Callaway County Sheriff's Department. Five MDC trucks and two CCSD vehicles worked to ensure hunters were complying with deer hunting regulations.
Todd Houf, Callaway County conservation agent, said a couple of agents were staked out on the Route F overpass watching the vehicles passing by underneath them. He said if they spotted a deer in the back of a pickup or other vehicle, they would radio the information to agents waiting nearby. The agents would then pull over the vehicle with the deer.
According to Houf, there were two main things agents were checking for - that a hunter had received a confirmation number for the deer and that the deer had a yellow transportation tag on it.
"They always have to have a transportation tag on there," Houf said. "That should've been on every deer that went underneath the overpass."
Houf said other similar spot checks were done throughout the state on the same day. The firearm deer hunting season started Saturday, the MDC deciding to do spot checks the first weekend of the season.
"Something like 60 percent of deer hunters go out during opening weekend," said Joe Jerek, MDC spokesperson in Jefferson City.
He said five deer that were found to be "illegally harvested" were confiscated during the check in Fulton. Jerek said confiscated deer are typically donated to Share the Harvest, a program that provides venison for the needy.
Out of 40 vehicles and 52 harvested deer checked on Sunday, nine citations were issued and 12 written warnings. Houf said nine citations wasn't a big number.
"Numerous stops were made where everybody complied," he said.
Jerek said the best way to avoid citations is to "hunt legally and ethically."
Houf said wildlife violations are a class A misdemeanor charge for which the penalty can be up to $1,000 fine and one year in jail. However, he said most violations are fined within the $150-$375 range. Citations were issued for the following: Hunting without a valid permit, failure to tag deer, illegally transporting deer and violation of the four-point antler restriction (bucks need to have at least four points on one side of an antler rack to be legally harvested).