Columbia bow hunters learn ground rules for pursuing urban deer

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | 6:37 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Tom Kramer has his sights set on city property around the landfill to bow hunt for deer this fall.

It's a favored place to hunt, he said, "simply because that's near where we live."

Even though bow hunting on city property involves extra rules — for example, registration is required and deer can't be field-dressed within 100 feet of city trails or private property — it is "more peaceful than gun hunting," Kramer said.

Kramer's son, Tyler, also hunts on city lands. Tyler can hunt after school and has taken friends who registered in the program out to get their first deer, Kramer said.

"We enjoy eating the deer meat," Kramer said. "It's healthy."

Property around the landfill is one of eight city-owned tracts designated for bow hunting by the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department. Hunters who register are allowed to bow hunt under state and city rules on specified areas within those lands.

"This is an urban deer management program with the goal to reduce deer-traffic accidents," Columbia Parks and Recreation Park Services Manager Gabe Huffington said.

The program is in its 10th year, and hunters usually kill a total of 15 to 25 deer each season, Huffington said.

On average, about 250 hunters register every year. After the first of three registration meetings on Tuesday evening, 150 hunters had signed up, Huffington said.

There is no limit on the number of hunters who can use a given property at any one time and hunters can move freely in designated hunting zones with the burden on them to use proper judgment to stay away from other hunters, Huffington said.

The "enjoyment of being outside" and having a place to hunt close to work are major appeals for Chase Riley, who attended an orientation meeting on Tuesday. He plans to hunt on city property this fall for the first time.

Missouri's bow season for deer opens Sept. 15 and goes through Jan. 15, with restricted dates at certain locations within the city: Nov. 1 through Jan 15 at Atkins Park and Dec. 15 through Jan. 15 at Strawn Park, according to the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department's Hunting and Fishing website.

There are two one-hour registration meetings left for interested hunters. Both meetings are on Aug. 27 at the Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash. The first meeting is at 3 p.m. and the second at 6 p.m.

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