Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Forest Will Leave Noblett Lake Temporarily Dry Until Spring 2012

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AVA, Missouri – Mark Twain National Forest will leave Noblett Lake temporarily dry until spring 2012.
After coordinating with Missouri Departments of Natural Resources and Conservation, Mark Twain National Forest has decided  to leave the dam gate open, leaving the lake bed dry except for the perennial stream portion, until spring 2012.
This will allow cold weather to kill undesirable vegetation within Noblett Lake.
Vandals August 17, 2011 accessed Noblett Lake’s dam and opened the gate, allowing Noblett Lake water to flow into surrounding streams. The 70-year Civilian Conservation Corps-built lake has been filling in with sediment and vegetation over the years.
“The water loss presented a unique opportunity to consider restoration of the lake as a fishery, or return the area to its natural condition,” said Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs District Ranger Jenny Farenbaugh.
Once undesirable vegetation has been eliminated, the dam gate will slowly be closed spring 2012 during a period when precipitation is expected in order to minimize stream drying and potential fish kills.
“The lake will refill over a period of weeks, depending on the amount of precipitation and spring discharge,” Farenbaugh said.
“Although we know residents want to know if and when Noblett Lake will be re-stocked, we are working with Missouri Department of Conservation to determine the feasibility of restocking.”
Farenbaugh said Mark Twain National Forest is also working with partners on the restoration project.
“Opportunities to partner with state, Federal and non-governmental organizations for a project of this magnitude abound and are being explored,” Farenbaugh said.
Law enforcement investigators continue their investigation into the vandalism that resulted in water loss at Noblett Lake, located south of Willow Springs, Missouri in Douglas County.
If someone has information about the August 17, 2011 Noblett Lake incident, please contact 417-683-4428 ext. 199.
Mark Twain National Forest is the largest public land manager in Missouri with 1.5 million acres in 29 counties in southern and central Missouri. Mark Twain National Forest’s mission is to continue to restore Missouri’s great outdoors and maintain a healthy, working forest.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Whooping cranes pay rare visit to southwest Missouri

Whooping Cranes
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What a hunter thought might be someone in trouble
turned out to be a flock of rare birds with 7-foot wingspans.
NEOSHO–Jeff Richards was hunting deer north of Neosho Monday night when he heard what he thought might be an injured hunter calling for help. When he went to investigate, he was amazed to find a pair of whooping cranes.
Whooping cranes are endangered, with fewer than 500 left in the wild. They also are spectacular, with wingspans exceeding 7 feet, white bodies and striking red-black-and-white heads. In addition to being a hunter, Richards apparently is a naturalist, too. He knew immediately what he was seeing and called the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) office in Neosho with the news.
Jeff Cantrell, a conservation education consultant for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) hurried to the site and was stunned to find an adult crane and a juvenile fitted with a leg band and a radio transmitter. The two birds were feeding contentedly in a crop field amid Canada geese and crows.
I got to watch them for an hour or so and share the observations with some avid and budding birders in the area,” said Cantrell. “What a wonderful opportunity for everyone. We witnessed lots of fascinating parental behavior, foraging, and some hopping/dancing almost. When they flew off in the mid-morning they finally called for us. It was truly a heart-stirring moment.”
Whooping crane sightings have been a rarity in Missouri for more than a century. MDC has records of two separate sightings of a single bird at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in 1958, a pair in Jackson County in 1970 and another single bird at Stockton Lake in 1996. The most recent sighting was of a group of  four to eight whooping cranes mixed in with a flock of sandhill cranes in Bates County in October 2010.
MDC asks that anyone who sees a whooping crane report it to the nearest MDC office.
-Jim Low-

Monday, November 28, 2011

Five Keys to Whitetail Deer Hunting Success

A hunter posing with his 10-point deer. This i...
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Regardless of where you are at in your whitetail deer hunting career, there are a few basic steps that you should know or perhaps review, prior to your hunting endeavors this year. If you are new to this sport, these ideas may be new to you. If you are experienced, perhaps reviewing these will be of benefit to you.
1. Scent Control

While this can be taken to any level of extremes, I guess you really cannot be too careful with regard to this matter. Some basic steps you can take include the following things. Do not wear the clothes you will be in while hunting until you are heading into field. Consider keeping your clothes in some form of scent proof bags until you get out of your vehicle (or camper, tent, cabin, etc.) and then slip them on just as you are ready to head out. Don't get up and cook breakfast for example and then wear these clothes to the field.

Remember this for sure; do not wear the boots you will wear in the field until heading out in the field. On that point, it is pretty well established that rubber boots carry the minimal scent of any other type of boots. If you are not in a cold place, cheap rubber boots are fine. More expensive lined (thinsulate is usually the material) boots may be required in colder climates. Scent-Lok materials are available for clothing and boots if you wish. Not required. Also, there are laundry detergents, deodorants, and scent-blocks available and these may be advisable, but again, are not absolutely necessary.

Continue Reading

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Estimating the Age of a Buck Whitetail Deer in the Field

A white-tailed deer
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Ethical hunting involves knowing the animals you will be hunting. Beyond this, if you own your own property and wish to manage the deer population through selective harvesting, aging of deer is an important skill. While the most accuratemethods are done using teeth wear (tooth replacement-wear method), thesemethods are not a practical answer for deciding whether or not to harvest a deer. Doing this will require some knowledge of how deer mature physically as they proceed through various stages of development.

Prior to beginning our discussion of these characteristics, let's establish why we are discussing age of deer in the increments we use. Fawns are born in the Spring and reach the age of 1/2 a year in the Fall around hunting season. Thus, we discuss the ages of deer, as fawns, 1 1/2 years of age, 2 1/2 years of age and so on. Antler development reaches its pinnacle at the time the deer reaches maturity, which is around age 5. Therefore, we will discuss the physical characteristics of deer through age 5 1/2, but deer typically retain their maximum antler size through approximately age 8.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Few Things You Should Know About Guided Hunts

Fruits of the hunt!
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Do you dream about going on a guided hunt?  Do you attend sport shows and collect all the brochures but not sure where to go from there?  You’re not alone.  Hunting around home is unlike the experience you will gain when going on a guided hunt or even a guided fishing excursion.  But the planning and the cost of it can be overwhelming, and it’s definitely a process; many don’t know where to begin.  Let me walk you through it, it’s worth all the effort!

Before you begin, realize one thing…it doesn’t matter what type of guided hunt you take, hunting is still hunting; there are no guarantees to an actual success and the experience should be your main priority.  If you regard it as an entire adventure, you are bound to be pleased with the results.

Outfitters all over the world work hard to offer you the quality you are looking for.  Their careful planning, investment and knowledge provides you with an experience of a lifetime.  They spend countless hours and money to ensure an environment exists to optimize your chances at fulfilling your dreams.  You can help by learning as much about the hunt as you are able.  The more you know, the more you can be prepared; and while the outfitter already knows their responsibilities, it’s only to your benefit that you know yours.  Gaining knowledge about the area you will be hunting, the game you are seeking can lay great foundation to your overall experience.  Remember, though, that your guide is the expert and always be honest about your abilities.

To begin, you need to decide what you want to hunt.  When do you want to hunt?  If you are interested in peak times, plan well in advance.  Many outfitters are booked a year ahead of time for peak ruts or fish runs.  Be prepared to be flexible and work with the outfitter, they can give you alternate time frames that may be just as suitable.  You also need to decide what kind of hunt you would like to go on.  There are several types of hunts from the bare bones hunt (least expensive) to the trophy hunt (most expensive).  We shall assume a standard hunt, which is what most hunters go with.

The final deciding factor before choosing your guide is what kind of weapon is allowed.  Many outfitters are becoming archery only due to the low impact and longer seasons.  Make sure that the outfits you are considering allow the weapon of your choice and they place you in the appropriate season.  If you are a firearm hunter, ask if they will allow you to shoot a group of bullets when you arrive to check for accuracy.  Depending on the distance or means of travel, this is very important.  Most guides will encourage you to zero in before you hunt.

Once you have chosen these important factors, start seeking a guide service.  If you don’t know of one, you can find a guide matching service online such as HuntAndFishGuides.com, which will match you with a reputable outfitter.  You can also try to call the game warden in the county that you have interest hunting in.  They should be able to direct you to a reputable outfitter in their area.  Once you have made contact, ask for references from previous hunts that are willing to talk to you.  Make sure you don’t receive references from the same hunting party; you will want to talk to several different clients that have experienced different adventures.  Ask them anything you would like to know about their time from the guide themselves to accommodations if they are willing to share.  Select several guides and compare.  Discuss with the guide your expectations, make sure they can accommodate you; trophies in one part of the country may be different than a trophy in another part of the country.  After all, it’s your money and you have the right to know the details.

Be aware of all costs involved.  Surprises of the financial kind are not usually welcomed in any stance in life and this is no exception.  Find out what is included in your package so you can plan accordingly; license and tags, transportation, trophy fees, tipping, processing, shipping, etc.  Ask the guide if they have available extra hunting supplies if something breaks or you forget something.  Bottom line?  Do your homework.  Leave no stone unturned, leave nothing to chance.

Once you have chosen your guide, keep an open dialogue.  If questions come up, write them down and then sit down and make that phone call.  Clear communication with your guide will only enhance your trip.  Allow your guide to know your limitations both physically and with your shooting abilities.  Armed with this information, the guide can create an outing that will play to your strengths instead of your weaknesses.  Most of these hunts can by very trying on the human body and making yourself out to be in better shape than you are will only serve misery and a low chance of success.  This is important information to share when you finally book your hunt, not when you get there.

Your guide will send you a confirmation, a list of recommended gear to bring and your itinerary.  Don’t assume you know more than your guide and pack what they suggest.  You shouldn’t need anything new for your trip, make sure everything you have is comfortable and appropriate for your chosen game and in good condition.  Unless you have something you can’t live without, pay attention to what they will provide so that you don’t unnecessarily over pack.

Once you arrive do your part to be a good guest.  Your enthusiasm is expected and welcomed but your time there is also spent well listening and learning.  Whether this is for a trophy or a new species to add to your showcase, you can always learn something new and your guide will be a wealth of information.  When it comes time to zero in on your target, keep your eyes and ears open and your guide will direct you to the best possible shot.  Develop relationships, enjoy the time and hunt safe.  This is your dream; help it become a reality!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Missouri and Illinois Wildlife Hotline

Quoted from website:

The Wildlife Hotline was put together by a group of wildlife rehabilitators in the Missouri and Illinois area to offer assistance with wildlife conflicts. When you call the hotline you will be connected with a wildlife specialist who is available to answer questions regarding all of our native wild animals, help you determine if an animal is in need of rescue, find a local rehab center for you, and explain your legal rights within the Wildlife Code.

Our specialists are volunteers who either are working for a wildlife rehabilitation center currently, or have in the past, and have been educated by the NWRA or IWRC as rehabilitators. We have specialists that are located in Missouri and Illinois, from many different counties, and who are knowledgeable with mammals, birds of prey, songbirds, reptiles, and domestic animal/wildlife conflicts. The hotline is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. If you are forwarded to voice mail, that voice mail is sent to all of our volunteers and responded to as quickly as possible, usually within an hour. This service is available for police, animal control, conservation centers, nature centers, etc. to refer citizen’s wildlife calls to, anytime the need arises.

The Wildlife Hotline is here to help when you are in need, even if you need us on a Sunday, or in the middle of the night!

Call us for issues like these:

Wildlife Conflicts – squirrel in the attic, groundhog digging up your yard, skunk sprayed your dog, raccoon stuck in a dumpster

Orphaned Wildlife – baby squirrels fell out of a tree, baby skunks living under your porch, baby birds trying to fly

Injured Wildlife – raccoon circling in your yard in daylight hours, deer hit by car on side of road, hawk unable to fly, goose tangled in fishing line

Wildlife Education – why is this opossum sitting on my fence? will the coyote attack my dog? is this skunk going to spray me?

Abuse Reporting – neighbor is trapping animals and not attending to the traps, coworker is hunting outside of hunting season, neighborhood kids are terrorizing birds and squirrels in the area

Until now, wildlife related calls from the public had nowhere to go. The conservation departments, rabies control, animal control, humane societies and animal rescues were bombarded with calls that they just couldn’t give the proper attention to. Some calls were going to our police and fire departments in a desperate attempt to get any sort of assistance at all. When callers were told that no one could help, people were left with just the option to call pest control companies to handle their conflicts, often spending hundreds of dollars they don’t have, and ultimately resulting in injury or death to the animals. The Wildlife Hotline is happy to assist in these cases. While we cannot always have someone “on-site” to assist, many times all that is needed is a telephone consultation to educate homeowners of how to handle these conflicts on their own, safely and humanely. It is a win-win situation. The caller gets the information that they need to resolve their conflict, the homeowner gets to keep the hundreds of dollar that they may have spent with a pest control company, plus the animal conflict is settled humanely and efficiently.

We are a 100% volunteer based organization. Our wildlife specialists are assisting you out of their compassion for the wildlife involved. Our specialists are also concerned that the public learn the correct information about these animals, in order to solve conflicts in a way that benefits everyone, and does no harm to the lives involved, or the environment around us.

Call (636) 492 – 1610 to speak with a wildlife specialist.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Director Pauley announces Our Missouri Waters pilot project, develops coordinated, holistic approach to watershed management

Seal of Missouri.
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 17, 2011 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources today announced Our Missouri Waters, a new watershed-based approach that will change the way the department conducts water resource management.
Speaking at the Tri-State Water Resource Coalition annual conference in Springfield, department director Sara Parker Pauley announced the initiative that will take a coordinated, holistic approach to watershed management across the state.
Our Missouri Waters initiative will modernize and streamline the way the department conducts watershed planning to better target our resources and provide a greater environmental benefit to the state of Missouri,” said Director Pauley. “This will help the department maintain consistency and provides a framework to measure results and provide accountability.”
Stakeholders, partnering agencies and the public will play a critical role throughout the initiative.  The department has established a Watershed Advisory Committee that will provide their expertise and insight to the department as it works to develop, implement and evaluate this new approach. Working with these partners, the department will work to improve watershed planning, identify issues within watersheds and utilize tools that are best suited to address those watershed-specific issues.
“I applaud the department for taking this step to break down silos, which will lead to a more efficient, integrated and effective approach to preserving and protecting our precious water resources,” Gov. Jay Nixon said.
Citizen participation and cooperation is also crucial for successful watershed management. “Local citizen participation is key to the success of Our Missouri Waters initiativeWhen citizens better understand the issues within their watershed, they become more invested in the future of their community and together we can develop the most effective solution to benefit the state’s water resources for generations to come.” added Director Pauley.
The department selected three pilot watersheds to be included in the department’s first phase of the Our Missouri Waters initiative. The department evaluated all watersheds throughout the state and selected Spring River watershed, Big River watershed and the Lower Grand River watershed due to their diversity and opportunities. When selecting the three pilot watersheds, the department examined issues such as water quality, water quantity, high-quality waters for preservation and local stakeholder interest.
The department will begin implementing the pilot projects in early 2012 and will continue the planning process into 2013. These pilots will allow the department to analyze how well this watershed-based approach works and to make adjustments before implementing a statewide effort expected to be launched in 2013.
For more information, visit the department’s website at dnr.mo.gov/omwi.htm or contact the Department of Natural Resources toll free at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419(Telecommunications Device for the Deaf). 


Turkey Trivia Thanksgiving 2011

Turkey Trivia Thanksgiving 2011



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NWS issues Red Flag Warning. Be firewise to prevent wildfires.

The logo of the United States National Weather...
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JEFFERSON CITY Mo -- The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a “Red Flag Warning” for much of Missouri. According to the NWS, “This means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential.” For more information, visit http://www.crh.noaa.gov/hazards/lsx
 
The Missouri Department of Conservation urges hunters, campers and others in the outdoors to follow these precautions to protect lives, property and our precious forests.

Getting to camp
Wildfires can start when fine, dry fuel, such as grass, comes in contact with catalytic converters.
·        Think twice before driving into and across a grassy field.
·        Never park over tall, dry grass or piles of leaves that can touch the underside of a vehicle.
·        When driving vehicles off road, regularly inspect the undercarriage to ensure that fuel and brake lines are intact and no oil leaks are apparent.
·        Always carry an approved fire extinguisher on vehicles that are used off road.

Preparing to make your fire
·        Clear a generous zone around fire rings. When humidity is low and wind is high, debris can become tinder for a stray spark or ember.
·        Store your unused firewood a good distance from the fire.
·        Never use gasoline, kerosene or other flammable liquid to start a fire.
·        Keep campfires small and controllable.
·        Keep fire-extinguishing materials, such as a rake, shovel and bucket of water, close by in case you need to quench your fire in a hurry.

Never leave a campfire unattended!
·        Extinguish campfires each night and before leaving camp (even if it's just for a few moments).

Practice extra caution in the field
·        If you smoke, put out your cigarettes completely. Burn them in your campfire or pack them out.

Don't delay call for help!
·        Call 911 at the first sign of a fire getting out of control.

Report forest arson
Many wildfires are set by vandals. You can stop arson by calling 800-392-1111. Your report will remain anonymous, and rewards are possible.

Discover Nature with Eagle Days


MDC offers events at locations around the state along with other viewing opportunities.
Courtesy MDC

JEFFERSON CITY Mo – Missouri's winter eagle watching is spectacular as large numbers of our national symbol congregate along Missouri rivers, lakes and wetlands. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages people to discover nature through the following Eagle Days events, which include live eagle programs, exhibits, activities, videos, guides with spotting scopes and refreshments:

·        Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Mound City, on Dec. 3-4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 816-271-3100.

·        Smithville Lake Little Platte Park Course Complex, Smithville, on Jan. 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Jan. 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 816-532-0174.

·        Old Chain of Rock Bridge, St. Louis south of I-270 off Riverview Drive, on Jan. 14-15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 314-877-1309.

·        Springfield Conservation Nature Center, Springfield, on Jan. 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Jan. 22 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information call 417-888-4237.

·        Lock & Dam 24 and Apple Shed Theater with driving tour at Ted Shanks Conservation Area, Clarksville, on Jan. 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Jan. 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information call 660-785-2420.

·        Shell City Community Center and Shell Osage Conservation Area, Shell City, on Feb. 4-5 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 417-876-5226.

Can’t make Eagle Days? View eagles in the wild at numerous locations throughout the state including:

·        Lake of the Ozarks Bagnell Dam Access east of Bagnell
·        Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area off Route K southwest of Columbia
·        Lock & Dam 24 in Clarksville
·        Lock & Dam 25 east of Winfield
·        Mingo National Wildlife Refuge northwest of Puxico
·        Old Chain of Rocks Bridge south of I-270 off of Riverview Drive in St. Louis
·        Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary east of West Alton
·        Schell-Osage Conservation Area north of El Dorado Springs
·        Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge south of Mound City
·        Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge south of Sumner
·        Table Rock Lake southwest of Branson
·        Truman Reservoir west of Warsaw

Dress for the weather and don’t forget cameras and binoculars.

For an MDC brochure on Eagle Days, visit www.mdc.mo.gov and search “Eagle Days.”

Saturday, November 19, 2011

MDC celebrating 75 years of conservation in Missouri

Lands (owned and leased) that were managed by ...
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Missouri’s unique, citizen-led conservation agency began in November 1936.


JEFFERSON CITY Mo -- The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is celebrating its 75th anniversary through October 2012. Throughout the next year, the MDC-produced magazine, Missouri Conservationist, will highlight the Show-Me-State’s unique, citizen-led conservation story, successful conservation partnerships and programs and future challenges. To read the Missouri Conservationist online or to subscribe, free to Missourians, visit http://mdc.mo.gov/conmag. MDC will also host anniversary events throughout the coming year at nature centers and other locations throughout the state. To follow anniversary activities, visit http://mdc.mo.gov/about-us/get-know-us/75th-anniversary.

“Conservation in Missouri is unique,” said MDC Director Robert Ziehmer, “unique in its history, unique in the way it derives its authority and funding from citizens, and unique in the passion, partnerships and commitment of Missourians to perpetuate this legacy.”

Ziehmer added that Missourians have achieved some amazing results.


“Working together, the Department and citizens have restored and conserved dozens of fish and wildlife species,” he said. “We have ensured that Missouri is a great place to hunt and fish, transformed forestry into a sustainable industry, created a system devoted to serving both rural and urban private landowners, invested in the hearts of major urban areas to encourage participation in the outdoors, developed an accessible network of public lands and facilities, and partnered the entire way with citizens and communities throughout the state.”

The need to protect, conserve and sustain Missouri’s fish, forest and wildlife resources began well before the creation of the MDC. During their expedition in the early 1800s through what is now known as Missouri, explorers Lewis & Clark described the stunning abundance and variety of fish, forests and wildlife. However, by the 1860s, our state’s fish, forest and wildlife resources were depleted through unchecked hunting, fishing, logging and burning of land. By the 1930s, the existing Missouri Department of Game was underfunded and largely a token gesture weakened by powerful interests.

These circumstances set the stage for citizen-led efforts to begin the restoration of Missouri’s fish, forest and wildlife resources 75 years ago. In September 1935, Missouri sportsmen met and formed the Restoration and Conservation Federation of Missouri. They drafted an amendment to the Missouri Constitution aimed at creating an apolitical conservation agency and set to work getting it passed. On Nov. 3, 1936, voters approved Amendment 4 to the Missouri Constitution, creating the Conservation Commission and the apolitical, science-based conservation agency with authority over fish, forests and wildlife. On July 1, 1937, Amendment 4 took effect.

“Not in their wildest imaginations could those early sportsmen have imagined what has been achieved,” said Dave Murphy, executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. “On the same landscape, at the same time that our human population has doubled, we’ve seen the restoration of wild turkey, deer, geese, river otters, raccoons, black bass, elk and so much more.”

In 1970, the Conservation Federation of Missouri led an effort to establish dedicated funding for conservation through the Design for Conservation. Passed in 1976, it included a pledge to obtain land for recreation, forestry and protection of critical habitat, increased services to the public in the areas of wildlife and forest conservation, the creation of conservation nature centers throughout Missouri, and funding through the 1/8-of 1-percent conservation sales tax.

This sales-tax revenue makes up 58 percent of MDC’s annual operating budget with no funding coming from the state’s general revenue. Permit revenues from fishing, hunting and trapping account for approximately 20 percent of the Department’s annual revenue. MDC also receives 14 percent of its funding in the form of federal reimbursements from sources including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs.

Efforts to ensure healthy forests, abundant fish and wildlife and productive waters provide benefits to citizens’ quality of life and the state economy. Today, hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, along with forest industries support about 95,000 Missouri jobs and generate more than $11.4 billion annually to state and local economies.

The Department is led by the Conservation Commission, which consists of four commissioners appointed by the Governor for six-year unpaid terms. Current Commissioners are: Don R. Johnson of Festus; James T. Blair, IV, of St. Louis; Don C. Bedell of Sikeston; and Becky L. Plattner of Grand Pass.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hunters shoot 89,000 deer on opening weekend

A white-tailed deer
Image via Wikipedia

Experts attribute the 8-percent decrease to warm, windy
weather and decreasing deer numbers in some parts of the state.
JEFFERSON CITYHunters checked 89,728 deer during the opening weekend of Missouri’s November firearms deer hunt, a decrease of 8.3 percent from 2010.
Resource Scientist Jason Sumners, with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), said weather played a role in this year’s decrease, but attributed a longer declining trend to shrinking deer numbers in some parts of the state.
“There’s no question that the opening-weekend harvest was affected by warm temperatures and high winds,” said Sumners. “However, this isn’t just a one-year decrease. The opening-weekend harvest averaged 118,000 from 2001 through 2005. From 2006 through 2010, the average was 95,401.  Those figures reflect a change in regional deer populations.”
Sumners said areas where deer numbers are down include parts of the Kansas City, Northwest, Southwest and Central regions. The opening-weekend harvest in those areas was down between 11 and 18 percent.
The opening-weekend harvest in southeastern Missouri and in the Ozark region was similar to last year’s. Sumners said deer numbers are increasing slowly in those areas.
Sumners said the declining trends in deer population and harvest numbers are not cause for concern.
“We have been trying for the better part of a decade to stabilize deer numbers in some areas,” said Sumners. “In others we have been working to bring down deer populations to reduce crop damage and deer-vehicle accidents. Now our challenge is finding ways to fine-tune harvest at the local level to balance hunting opportunity with nuisance problems.”
Sumners said this could mean future reductions in the availability of antlerless permits in some areas.
According to Sumners, a decrease of 8,000 in the opening-weekend harvest is not likely to have a significant effect on the overall deer harvest but may reflect a general trend of lower deer numbers in many parts of rural Missouri.  With 12 days of the November hunting season ahead, followed by a nine-day antlerless deer season, 11 days of muzzleloader hunting and a two-day late youth season, hunters have plenty of time to catch up. Archers have through Jan. 15 to hunt. Sumners said he expects the 2011-2012 deer harvest to be in the neighborhood of 250,000 to 275,000.
Top harvest counties during the opening weekend were Howell with 1,702 deer checked, Macon with 1,617 and Texas with 1,588.
MDC recorded one non-fatal, firearms-related hunting incident during the opening weekend.
-Jim Low-