SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri deer hunters are gearing up for their biggest weekend of the year, but there are a few changes to know about.

The November firearm deer season starts around 6:17 a.m. Saturday and runs through Nov. 21.

But with more than 1.5 million deer reside in Missouri, the Missouri Department of Conservation said more deer can increase the spread of chronic waste disease in deer.

That’s why the agency is adding a new firearms portion from Nov. 22-26 that will be open to all counties within the CWD management zone.

In the Kansas City area, Clay, Clinton, Caldwell and Ray counties are new to the CWD management zone this year. Carroll and Livingston counties are also in the zone.

Hunters can use any unfilled firearms permits and must abide by the statewide limit of one antlered deer.

If you’re hunting in a CWD management zone county during opening weekend, remember you must take your deer to a designated sampling station. CWD testing is not required for deer harvested during the CWD firearms portion.

Officials said using bait, grain, and other feeds is prohibited. 

This week, sister station KOLR paid a visit to Texas County. No county in the state bagged more deer than this southern Missouri county last November. 

One local gun shop owner in Cabool said this Saturday is like a national holiday for hunters.

“Most parents wouldn’t let kids miss school for a football game or something like that, but during deer season, I know a few schools that go ahead and shut down,” said Pete Peterson, owner of Missouri Gun Co. 

In this year’s youth season, Texas County youngsters harvested the third-most deer in the state.

“You’ll hear the big fish stories is what I like to call them, you know, where every time they tell it in here it keeps getting bigger. There’s already been some big ones killed this year,” Peterson said.

You can find the full schedule of deer hunting seasons and restrictions online.