Hunters should expect fewer deer when season begins Saturday

Thursday, November 14, 2013 | 7:20 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A robust acorn crop will make this year's firearms season more challenging for hunters. The season opens Saturday for 10 days statewide.

"I do anticipate the total harvest will drop off because of good acorn crop this year," said Jason Sumners, a deer biologist at the Missouri Department of Conservation.

A better yield means deer will spread out to eat the acorns, making them harder to hunt, Sumners said.

He added that a decline in deer population can be attributed to the "liberalization of regulations" and the outbreaks of hemorrhagic disease in 2007 and 2012.

Sumners said the 2007 outbreak killed a reported 3,100 deer and the 2012 outbreak killed a reported 10,000 deer statewide, but the total numbers are probably higher than what was reported.

Hunters should also anticipate changes in Boone County regulations. Hunters outside the Boone County urban zone will be restricted to two antlers permits this year, while hunters inside the zone will still be able to purchase an unlimited amount of permits.

The restriction was put in place to give more opportunities to hunters living in areas where deer are not as accessible, he said.

In 2012, Sumners said 517,618 individuals were issued permits and 309,929 deer were killed. He said the number of hunters statewide is gradually increasing while the deer population is slowly decreasing.

An estimated 813 deer have been killed in Boone County so far this year, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation's website.

"Hunters will still have the opportunity to go out and take a deer, but there is an expectation that they will see fewer deer overall," Sumners said.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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