MDC will display historic archery deer mount and gear at Parma Woods Shooting Range

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Kansas City
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Parkville, Mo. – A proud hunter and the 10-point buck bagged with bow and arrow made the front page of The Kansas City Star newspaper on Oct. 8, 1959. Voris Dibben of Lake Waukomis killed the white-tailed deer in wooded hills near the Missouri River west of Parkville when deer were making a comeback from near extirpation in Missouri thanks to conservation.

"Bags Buck 10 Miles From Downtown," said the The Star's front-page headline accompanied by a center-page photo of Dibben with his bow and the deer.

Now, the trophy mount, antique archery gear and framed newspaper clipping will showcase a proud moment in conservation history. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently accepted the Dibben family's landmark keepsakes for a future display at MDC's Parma Woods Shooting Range and Education Center. Janice Alexander, Dibben's daughter, and her husband, John Alexander, made the donation.

"I think my dad would really appreciate this," Janice Alexander said of the future history display at Parma Woods.

Dibben's newsworthy deer marked a wildlife recovery success story. Today, deer hunting is a revered tradition that provides provides food and enjoyment for thousands of families and pumps more than $1 billion annually into the state's economy.

But white-tailed deer were almost extirpated from the state and a rarity in western Missouri by the 1920s. Then citizens in 1936 voted for a constitutional amendment creating the Missouri Conservation Commission and the Missouri Department of Conservation. Science-based deer management that began then continues today with broad hunting opportunities that create a balance between people and deer.

But just seeing a deer was a novelty in most neighborhoods in 1959.

A second photo in The Star story shows Dibben shaking hands with Dick Rotsch, a longtime MDC metro coordinator in Kansas City. Rotsch said the county's herd in 1959 tallied about 300 deer. MDC that year opened all counties in the state for deer hunting for the first time in the modern era.

By comparison, hunters killed 1,211 deer with firearms and archery gear in Platte County in the seasons from autumn 2013 into early 2014. Missouri today has a healthy herd estimated at more than one million deer. Deer are often seen in urban areas and special managed hunts help control their population.

Rotsch told The Star that Dibben's deer was likely the first taken in Platte County with an arrow in a century, perhaps the first taken by any method in 50 years. His recurve bow was a wood and fiberglass laminate and the arrow shafts were wood. To reduce glare off his bow he painted it green.

"It was quite a tough challenge with the old-fashioned bow," Dibben told The Star. "But it's a good feeling to have accomplished it."

Janice Alexander was a third grader at a brand new school in Kansas City's Northland, Thomas B. Chinn Elementary, when her father shot the buck. Her memories are faint of the day. But then the deer became a conversation piece in the family home and later in her home in Kansas City, North. Her father, a lifelong, hunter and angler, died in 1997. Her mother, Marian Dibben, worked as an administrative assistant for MDC when the agency had an office on Grand Avenue in downtown Kansas City.

The hunting keepsakes will now tell a story about conservation and hunting traditions for future generations to see, said Nathan Woodland, MDC supervisor at Parma Woods. They will be displayed in a room used for outdoor skills classes offered by MDC. Ironically, the shooting range is in southern Platte County near the Missouri River and could be near or where Dibben shot the buck.

"This is a chance to keep conservation history alive," Woodland said. "It's really wonderful they are generous enough to realize the significance and they want to share this with other people."

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