State of the State’s Deer Herd
past years of good acorn production also provided much-needed nutrition, potentially resulting in greater fawn production, which helps boost populations. Increased deer populations across the Ozarks are well accepted as deer populations remain below biological and social carrying capacity.
Deer populations in the Southeast Region have been slowly increasing over the past decade, which is reflected in harvest trends. Slowly increasing populations and a poor acorn crop resulted in a 22-percent increase in deer harvest from 2011 to 2012. The previous two years experienced good acorn production, made deer less vulnerable to harvest, and increased fawn production. Populations are expected to continue slowly increasing, as regulations remain restrictive. Increased deer populations across the Southeast Region are well accepted because, in most locations, populations remain below desirable levels. Additionally, the Southeast Region appears to be the only Missouri region to escape significant deer mortality due to hemorrhagic disease in 2012.
St. Louis Region
Outside of the urban areas, the St. Louis Region deer populations have been stable or slowly increasing over the past several years. Deer harvest in the St. Louis Region in 2012 increased 18 percent from 2011. The increased harvest can be partially attributed to the poor acorn crop in the southern parts of the region, especially in Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson counties. The St. Louis Region did experience moderate hemorrhagic disease mortality in 2012, but was not as severely affected in comparison to other regions across the state.
Deer populations in most of the Southwest Region have been slowly increasing since a reduction in the availability of antlerless permits was instituted in 2008. In 2012, poor acorn production resulted in more deer sightings by hunters, resulting in an increased harvest. Thus, harvest in the Southwest Region was up 12 percent from 2011, but may be more reflective of a poor acorn production rather than the slowly increasing population. The greatest harvest increase during 2012 compared to the 10-year average occurred in Stone, Dallas, Greene, and Laclede counties. Like many other parts of the state, the Southwest Region was hit hard by hemorrhagic disease in 2012. With the increased harvest and hemorrhagic mortality, we expect some areas to have reduced deer populations over the next few years. In local areas where population declines are apparent, landowners and hunters should consider harvesting fewer does in 2013.
A Deer Harvest Scenario
The following is an example of how to determine the appropriate number of does to harvest to increase, maintain, or decrease a deer population that is estimated at approximately 31 deer per square mile.31 deer per square mile 35 percent of the population are fawns
- Approximately 11 fawns per square mile65 percent of the population are adults
- Approximately 20 adults per square mile1: 2 Adult sex ratio (buck : doe):
- Approximately 7 bucks per square mile
- Approximately 13 does per square mile
- Increase population:10–15 percent, or two or fewer adult does per square mile
- Stabilize population: 20–25 percent, or three adult does per square mile
- Decrease population:30–35 percent, or four or more adult does per square mile