Trimming the Herd

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2003

Last revision: Nov. 15, 2010

initiative to address local deer issues. Only local citizens can decide what number of deer is acceptable and then take action to reach the agreed-upon goal.

Often, however, local ordinances prohibit techniques that have proven effective for managing deer. Typically, the use of firearms and archery equipment is prohibited, noisemakers and sometimes even fences are banned, and dogs usually must be penned or on a leash. Ironically, the feeding of deer, which only worsens problems, is often allowed.

Unquestionably, there are good reasons why some activities are prohibited in certain areas. However, these same activities can often be successfully employed in others. Specifically, archery hunting has proved to be safe and effective in managing deer numbers in urban and suburban areas. In one situation, nine carefully selected archers safely removed 35 deer from a single property in only four days.

Each community is unique and must establish guidelines to ensure that residents are comfortable with the selected plan of action. In the case of archery hunting, requirements can include proof of hunter education certification, proof of proficiency with archery equipment, minimum acreage requirements, written permission from landowners, mandatory check-in and check-out, hunting only from tree stands, and buffer zones around residences and roadways. Often, simply granting hunting access to property, either rural or suburban, is enough to solve or prevent a problem.

The Future

White-tailed deer are beautiful animals that provide a variety of unique and exciting recreational opportunities. However, high deer numbers can damage crops, endanger entire ecosystems and threaten human health and safety. The most effective way to manage deer numbers is to manage the number of does in the population, and hunting regulations are one way to ensure adequate doe harvest. The booklet "Missouri Whitetails: A Management Guide for Landowners and Deer Enthusiasts" contains valuable information about managing deer. Obtain this publication by visiting online  or by writing to P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102.

The Conservation Department stands ready to provide technical assistance to anyone interested in managing deer populations.

Will deer hunting regulations change in the future? They must change to keep pace with the evolving deer herd and management objectives. The health and future of Missouri's deer herd depends on it.

New Regulations

New regulations provide more opportunity to take antlerless deer.

  • Firearms hunters may purchase and fill any number of Firearms Second Bonus Deer Hunting Permits for many units.
  • Archers may purchase and fill any number of Antlerless-Only Archery Deer Hunting Permits in most units.
  • The new Urban Deer Management portion of the firearms season provides two more days to take antlerless deer in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas.
  • Qualifying landowners of five or more acres may Farm Tag one deer of any sex or age.
  • Everyone who lives in the home with a qualifying resident landowner of 75 or more acres can receive no-cost Firearms Any-Deer and Bonus Deer Hunting Permits.

See the 2003 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Information booklet, available wherever permits are sold, for complete details.

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