So it turns out that in Missouri, in order to possess a deer skull with the antlers attached, you must have a permit from the Department of Conservation. Ed of Riverbend Journal was kind enuf to point this out to me. (You may remember my truly harrowing account of how I acquired this gruesome bit of decoration in an earlier post.)
So one day during a recent work week, I made a phone call to the good people at the conservation department and asked what I needed to do get this permit. I feared I would be challenged and perhaps even denied, but it was painless and easy. I explained how I had found the dead deer in my lake (I did not mention how diminished my lake was because of the summer drought), and the agent I spoke with immediately suspected that the deer had died because of the hemorrhagic disease that was being reported throughout the state. The agent asked me a few questions (the county where I’d found the dead deer, its condition, how many points on the antlers) then asked for my snail mail address to send the permit.
The document arrived a few days later. It was little more than a slip of paper with some printed words and a few hand-written notes on it, but it made me legal. The agent said at the time that she recommended that people simply tape the permit inside the skull so that it’s always available should the possessor ever be challenged. Since my skull is going to remain outside in the weather, I figured I wouldn’t do that but would keep it inside the nearby cabin where I could retrieve it should I need it. I really doubt that I’m ever going to be challenged about the skull, though I suppose if I ever have an agent out to Roundrock to ask about this or that, I’ll be glad I’m legal. Several of my neighbors have collections of dozens of these thing by their cabins, and they strike me as the kind of folk who don’t need no stinkin’ permits.
State law says that if you find antlers in the forest, you’re free to possess them, trade them, even sell them. But if they are attached to the skull, they’re contraband. I asked the agent why this was, and she told me that the fear is that someone might have hunted the deer without a permit. (Getting a deer tag for that season would be the equivalent of the possession permit I have.) So the permit shows that while I didn’t hunt the deer, I aquired the body part lawfully. I like being a lawful guy.