If you were lucky enough to harvest a deer this past season in Missouri, congratulations. Most hunters I know – myself included – are eating tag soup. There is no way around the fact that in most areas, Missouri’s deer numbers have taken a significant hit. The Conservation Department cites two big reasons for this situation. First, the widespread EHD (epizootic hemorrhagic disease) outbreak during the summer and fall of 2012 killed a lot of deer throughout the state. Second, hunters were able to tag a very large number of deer in 2012 – despite the EHD outbreak – since a lack of acorns in most areas forced deer to travel more in search of food, which put them in front of hunters more frequently. Those two factors have led to a major decline in the number of deer inhabiting in most parts of Missouri during the past 16 months.
So what can we do to help the deer herd rebound in the areas we hunt? Here are three things to consider:
1. Provide supplemental food during the harsh winter months. By consistently providing a source of nutritional food like this supplement , you will greatly increase the odds that the deer in your area will survive until spring – when a wealth of natural foods become available.
2. Remove as many coyotes as you can, every chance you get. Whether you prefer to trap or predator hunt – or both, harvesting these fawn-eating machines will have a major effect on how many young deer survive their first few weeks of life during the coming spring and summer. Recent studies have shown that coyotes can significantly impact deer populations in a negative way.
3. Reduce the number of does harvested in your hunting area. This is not a quick fix, as it takes a few years to make an impact. But if you and your hunting buddies intentionally let does walk during the next two or three seasons, they’re offspring will help bump up the deer numbers in your neck of the woods.
If you have other suggestions for helping our deer population rebound in Missouri, I’d love to hear them. What do you think? Comment below or on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/bpscolumbia
-Todd Pridemore, Local Hunting Pro