Missouri bear hunter Kelsie Wikoff is the ninth hunter to successfully bag a black bear this season and the first woman. The Missouri Department of Conversation, or MDC, recognized her hard work after spending 48 hours in her tree stand to get her prize.
And the prize was substantial, a 268-pound male bear, the first one Wikoff had ever seen in the state in person. Wikoff is not sharing exactly where she was hunting, but she did say she will have the whole bear mounted.
“Forty-eight hours in the stand paid off for Missouri’s first bear season,” shared Wikoff on social media. “So rewarding! So thankful for all the people and support along the way,” reports the Kansas City Star.
Conservators with the department set this season’s bear limit to 40 animals as bears continue to spread across the state. Bear season in Missouri started Oct. 18 and only runs for 10 days.
The Missouri Department of Conversation estimates the bear population in the state includes around 800 animals and bear hunting is pretty strictly regulated.
With a short bear season, the department is encouraging hunters to seek out a variety of game, especially deer. The Missouri Department of Conversation even offers “Field to Freezer” workshops to help new and experienced hunters alike process game to get the best quality meats and promote safe food handling.
“A lot of folks use a processor or butcher, which is great asset to our communities,” said MDC Conservation Educator Rob Garver. “For others it is a continuation of the outdoor experience, and this course should help folks of various experience get the most from their harvest.”
For hunters looking to give back to the community, the MDC also runs a “Share the Harvest” program where hunters can donate harvests to those in need.
“Missouri’s Share the Harvest program helps deer hunters donate surplus venison to the needy,” said the MDC. “This program is administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Conservation.”