Hunters may have challenge in deer season

Saturday, November 13, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Hunters will find plenty of deer for the November portion of Missouri's firearms deer season, which begins today and ends Nov. 23, but they will need to look sharp to find widely scattered deer.

The state's deer population remains around 1 million, the same as last year. In northern Missouri, deer numbers have decreased slightly. The Ozarks' deer population is growing slowly, and deer numbers are climbing at a slightly faster rate in agricultural areas of west-central Missouri.

Above-average rainfall in much of the state has produced a good to excellent crop of acorns this year. That is good for deer and turkeys, which rely heavily on acorns for food. But the widespread abundance of acorns means deer can find food anywhere, and this makes hunters' work more difficult.

Resource scientist Lonnie Hansen of the Missouri Department of Conservation said he already is getting calls from hunters in the Ozarks asking where all the deer have gone. He said the deer are there, but they aren't clustered around a few food sources as happens in years when acorns are in short supply.

"Hunters will have to work a little harder to find deer this year," Hansen said. "This is always true in years with good acorn crops, because their movements are harder to pattern."

Details about deer hunting regulations are contained in the 2004 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet. It is available wherever hunting permits are sold.

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