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Missouri Hunters Post Third-Largest Deer Harvest During 2007-08 Season

From Missouri Department of Conservation

-- Missouri archers harvested the second-largest number of deer on record during Missouri's bowhunting season, boosting the overall deer harvest to the No. 3 spot in historical standings. While not a record-setting deer-hunting season, 2007-2008 is likely to be remembered for a rollercoaster ride of strange weather and other conditions.

Archers checked 39,866 deer during the four-month bowhunting season. That is down 6 percent from last year's record archery harvest of 42,322. Female deer made up 51 percent of the archery deer harvest, compared to 46 percent of the firearms deer harvest.

Missouri's top three archery deer harvest counties were St. Louis, with 966 deer checked, Jefferson with 878 and Callaway with 808. Jackson County was close behind, with 804 deer checked by archers. Lonnie Hansen, a resource scientist and deer specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said the full bowhunting potential of counties in and around urban areas still has not been tapped.

The strong archery deer harvest, combined with a harvest of 260,162 deer during the five firearms deer season segments and deer taken during managed hunts brought the overall 2007-08 deer harvest to 302,666. That is a 7 percent decrease from the previous season but still the third-largest harvest in Missouri history.

Hansen said the 2007-08 deer season was characterized by a host of contradictory factors.

"On one hand, acorn production was down," said Hansen. "That tends to make hunters' job easier by concentrating deer around limited food supplies. On the other hand, overly warm, often windy weather during the November Portion of Firearms Deer Season was not in hunters' favor. We got a break from the weather during the Muzzleloader Portion and actually set a record there, only to have a catastrophic ice storm cut into hunter success in the Antlerless Portion."

Conservation agents around the state also mentioned an increased incidence of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, often mistakenly called "blue tongue," as a possible factor in the reduced deer harvest.

In spite of all the negative factors, the 2007-08 deer harvest was surprisingly strong. Total deer harvests for the past five years have been:
--2003-04 - 290,631
--2004-05 - 312,983
--2005-06 - 286,943
--2006-07 - 326,315
--2007-08 - 302,666.

Hansen said the relatively stable annual deer harvest of approximately 300,000 should reassure those who worry that liberalized deer hunting regulations might be cutting into deer numbers.

"Some hunters have expressed concern that the availability of unlimited antlerless tags in many counties will lead to deer population declines and reduced hunting opportunity," said Hansen. "Recent years' harvests indicate to me that overall the deer herd is stable.

There may be local decreases in deer numbers as a result of epizootic hemorrhagic disease or overharvest, but overall our deer herd is in good shape."

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