Trimming the Herd

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2003

Last revision: Nov. 15, 2010

is misplaced in modern deer management. How much better would it be if hunters changed their mantra to "real hunters do what needs to be done" and willingly took does rather than hunting only for antlered deer? If hunters aren't willing to participate to maximum effect, then regulations will have to change to ensure that adequate numbers of does are harvested each year.

The Department of Conservation establishes regulations for deer hunting, but regulations can only do so much to manage deer. The real key to effective deer management rests in the committed involvement of all Missourians, including hunters, landowners, municipal authorities and residents. Active cooperation is necessary, especially when addressing local situations.

For the most part, the Deer Management Unit system has proven very effective in managing deer numbers, but it can't always address local "hot" or "cold" spots. Creating a statewide system to deal with local situations would make regulations too complicated. Consequently, local landowners, neighbors and communities must cooperate to reach consensus regarding deer population goals, and then work together to achieve those goals.

Rural Areas

Landowners can effectively manage deer numbers on their land simply by inviting family and friends to harvest does on their property. Several factors must be considered, including the size and shape of the acreage, the quality of the habitat, and the amount of hunting pressure. If cooperating landowners believe there are too many deer, existing regulations provide management tools in the form of liberal availability of firearms and archery hunting permits. Without adequate doe harvest statewide, deer populations will likely remain high, even if deer numbers remain low in certain localities.

A good example of landowner cooperation occurred recently in Howard and Saline counties. Last fall, a group of landowners dealt with what they judged to be too many deer by inviting youngsters to hunt on their property during the Youth-Only portion of the firearms deer season. Through the cooperative efforts of landowners, the Conservation Department, and the University of Missouri Outreach & Extension 4-H program, young Missourians had the opportunity to learn more about deer, deer hunting, and firearms safety in a carefully controlled environment. They also learned how their efforts contributed to reducing the growth potential of the area's deer herd. It was a significant beginning for what is needed in hundreds of local areas in Missouri.

Towns and Urban Areas

Small towns and municipalities must also take the

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