As the light of dawn flooded the sky Saturday morning, hunters using firearms in Missouri began taking deer as the season opened.
It is estimated 20,000 deer will be killed in the first two days of the ten-day season.
The Missouri Department of Conservation hopes to use that to their advantage as they look for ways to learn more about the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) that has started to infect deer in a 29-county area.
Sampling stations have been set up in all 29 counties and it has been made mandatory that all deer taken this weekend have their lymph nodes removed at the stations or by a taxidermist if the deer is going to be mounted.
The sampling takes only a moment, with a few slices of a scalpel exposing the nodes location in the next of the animal.
The white fleshy lumps are then sealed in a bag that has been marked with a barcode that coincides with a data sheet filled out at the time of harvesting.
On the sheet, the age and sex of the deer is noted, as well as the location it was killed.
This information will help conservationists identify areas where CWD is and how prevalent it is in the deer population.
Because there is no cure for CWD, pockets of diseased deer will be culled to lessen future spreading.
The disease is spread from deer to deer, and as of this year has only been found in members of the deer family, including elk.
Testing of the samples is expected to take 4-6 weeks.