MDC's Bushwhacker Lake switches to managed deer hunts

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BRONAUGH, Mo. – Increasing hunter satisfaction at Bushwhacker Lake Conservation Area is the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) goal of this year's deer-hunting changes at the 4,790-acre area in southwest Missouri.

Beginning this fall, deer hunting at Bushwhacker will change from archery and alternative methods during those respective seasons to managed hunts only. Under the new format, this MDC public use area that straddles Barton and Vernon counties will feature six managed deer hunts that will be open for up to 900 hunters. The application period to participate in these managed hunts is July 1-July 31. Here is Bushwhackers' schedule and the number of hunters that will be drawn for each hunt:

  • Archery (longbow, recurve, compound bow, crossbow, atlatl), Sept. 15-Nov.11, 250 hunters
  • Youth-only (shotguns, muzzleloaders, cap-and-ball), Nov. 19-20, 50 hunters (youths must be at least 11 years old and hunter education certified, accompanied by an adult and attend a pre-hunt orientation)
  •  Historic methods (muzzle-loader – in-lines and scopes are allowed, cap-and-ball, longbow, recurve, compound, crossbow, atlatl), Dec. 3-9, 150 hunters
  • Historic methods, Dec. 10-16, 150 hunters
  • Historic methods, Dec. 17-23, 150 hunters
  • Historic methods, Dec. 24-30, 150 hunters

This change at Bushwhacker is the result of hunter input and MDC analysis at Bushwhacker and other areas. Over the last several years, MDC conducted an extensive review of deer management and hunting opportunities provided on MDC areas across the state. Hunters at select conservation areas were randomly interviewed and received follow-up surveys to determine their perceptions of the deer population, their hunting experiences and overall satisfaction with different regulations.

The review by MDC staff found that for most hunters, the opportunity to see and harvest a deer is very important and affects how hunters select a conservation area. Additionally, the results suggest conservation areas with more restrictive regulations increase opportunities to see deer and, thus, produce more satisfied hunters.

 “The new approach to managing hunting opportunities at Bushwhacker should produce a quality deer herd and provide some exceptional deer hunting opportunities that are not available on most public hunting areas in southwest Missouri,” said MDC Wildlife Management Biologist Nick Burrell, who manages the Bushwhacker Area.

Managed hunt applications for Bushwhacker and other managed deer hunts must be completed online. Hunters may apply individually or as a party of up to six. Each hunter may apply for only one managed deer hunt, Hunters who apply for more than one will be disqualified. Hunters are selected by random drawing. All successful applicants will be mailed an area map and other information regarding the hunt. Successful applicants can then purchase managed deer hunting permits at any vendor location.

Get more information on these and other managed deer hunts, preview hunt details and apply starting July 1 at Details about managed hunts can also be found in the “2016 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information” booklet available at Missouri Department of Conservation offices, permit vendors and online at