Deer management forum draws about 170 people

Friday, January 16, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:28 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fewer does and more big bucks were the clear desires of hunters during Thursday night’s public discussion on deer management at MU.

Beyond that, people in the audience expressed different views on how best to manage Missouri’s deer population. Unlike at the other two forums held in the state, no consensus of how to accomplish that goal was apparent. About 170 people turned out at Thursday’s forum.

“Diversity, diversity, diversity of issues,” said Lonnie Hansen, a resource scientist for the conservation department.

The Missouri Department of Conservation outlined several management techniques at the meeting, including restrictions on antler size, buck quotas, a shorter season for hunting bucks and a change in the season’s dates.

Many hunters were concerned that the youth-only season would be affected. Paul Wilson, a Columbia hunter, took his son hunting for the first time during the youth season this year.

“My son would be just as proud to take a doe as a buck,” Wilson said during the open session.

Joe Crites, a 15-year volunteer hunter education instructor, said hunters and landowners need to manage the land they hunt on. That sometimes means taking does instead of intermediate-age bucks for a season.

“It takes the personal responsibility of each person to help conservation agents out,” Crites said.

Lots of discussion centered on the movement of the season, either before or after rut. Other major concerns were how neighboring states were dealing with management issues, hunting on private versus public land and expanding the Share the Harvest program.

Nonhunting landowners in the audience said they didn’t trust hunters not to damage their property during the hunting season and were concerned about deer-caused loss to crop land. Others raised concerns about deer-related safety problems on highways and interstates.

More public forums are scheduled throughout Missouri. The Department of Conservation might consider conducting a pilot management program in Missouri as early as this fall; one could be in northwestern Boone County.

In the most recent hunting season, hunters killed 254,367 deer in Missouri, about 6,000 more than in 2002.

About 180 people attended a deer management meeting on Tuesday in Marshall and nearly 200 attended a meeting Jan. 6 in Hannibal, Hansen said.

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