COLUMBIA — Missouri bowhunters killed a record number of deer in the 2012-2013 season, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. The number of turkeys killed during the same season was the second highest on record.
During the four-month archery season that ended Jan. 15, hunters killed 53,997 deer — surpassing last year's record — and 3,217 turkeys.
Drought, improved equipment and the growing popularity of the sport contributed to 2.5 percent more deer and 10 percent more turkeys killed this season, according to the Conservation Department.
The drought in Missouri last summer reduced the availability of acorns, leaving deer to travel farther to find food. This movement increased the deer’s vulnerability to hunters.
“The distribution of acorns is more important in forest-dominated landscapes like the southern counties,” Jason Sumners, a resource scientist with the Conservation Department, said. Acorns were abundant during the prior two seasons, diminishing the number of kills.
Unlike the state as a whole, Boone County bowhunting kills were down slightly. Because the county is not heavily forested, the availability of acorns is not as significant a factor in hunting in this area.
The Conservation Department issued 202,421 archery permits for deer and turkey hunting for the 2012-2013 season —up 4.9 percent from last year. Sumners considers this increase a promising result of improvements in hunting equipment.
“With the evolution of equipment in recent years, it’s become a lot less intimidating to start bowhunting,” Sumners said. “It’s encouraging to see that more people are enjoying their time in the outdoors chasing deer.”