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Hunters Help Control Deer Population At Powder Valley Nature Center

Photo by Diana Linsley, Webster-Kirkwood Times.

Photo by Diana Linsley, Webster-Kirkwood Times.

“Physical deer counts done over the course of several winters indicate the deer population is much greater than what is considered ecologically sound,” noted Yegge. “When deer numbers are high, other plant and wildlife species may struggle to survive or disappear all together.”

By Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

Powder Valley Nature Center near the border of Kirkwood and Sunset Hills was the scene of a managed deer hunt on Nov. 5-7. Eight hunters were selected and allowed to use archery or crossbow equipment.

“The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) allows this deer hunt in an effort to control the deer population,” explained Tammy Yegge, nature center manager for Powder Valley. “Our staff track the area deer-vehicle collisions, monitor deer in our forest, and log complaints from area neighborhood regarding deer damage.

“Physical deer counts done over the course of several winters indicate the deer population is much greater than what is considered ecologically sound,” noted Yegge. “When deer numbers are high, other plant and wildlife species may struggle to survive or disappear all together.”

To keep wildlife numbers in balance, the MDC organized the managed hunt and selected eight hunters to participate. All of the hunters were required to attend a pre-hunt meeting at Powder Valley Nature Center on Friday, Nov. 4.

Hunters learned that “no shooting” zones of 25 yards were established along the boundaries of nature center property. They also had to hunt from elevated stands and they were required to harvest an antler-less deer before taking a second deer.

“I hunted almost every minute of the event,” said Keith Schmidt. “I shot a doe at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and the rest of the time was spent hunting a buck. A lot of small buck came my way, but I was interested in getting a mature buck and I finally took down an eight-point buck.

“I am a resident of Cedar Hill, but I lived in Kirkwood before that and I know how the deer can get to be a problem in this area. They get in collisions with cars on South Geyer and they come through the neighborhoods eating flowers and plants.”

The managed hunt programs occur at other nature centers across the state. Some hunters choose to give their deer meat to The Share the Harvest program, sponsored by MDC and the Conservation Federation of Missouri.

Share the Harvest enables hunters to help families in need through the voluntary deer meat donations. Since it started in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided more than 3.5 million pounds of venison to help feed hungry Missourians

Deer Tacos and Chili

“I am going to be eating deer meat for the next month,” said Schmidt. “I will be eating deer tacos, spaghetti, chili, lasagna. I’ll be eating some deer bratwurst, steaks, jerky and more.”

The MDC can provide deer meat recipes, as well as for other wild game and edibles in the state. The MDC also provides instructions on how to set aside part of a deer meat harvest to enjoy later using canned venison.

“We had fewer than 10 deer taken this year as opposed to 27 killed in last year’s managed hunt,” Yegge said. “Part of that was by design. We had 13 hunters last year and they could each take three deer. We cut down on that this year.

“It was very warm this year for November,” said Yegge. “So, the deer don’t move around as much as when it is cold. And the meat spoils quickly if it’s warm, so the meat has to be dressed quickly and then packed in ice quickly.

“I think things went pretty well this year,” added Yegge. “We did have some people enter the grounds, even though we closed gates and had signs posted that the park was closed for the hunt.”

Schmidt said he was surprised to see a boy from the neighborhood walking through the park by accident. He said the youngster was sighted and never was in any danger.

Schmidt also said a lady parked her vehicle outside the closed gate and walked into Powder Valley Nature Center violating the posted instructions for would-be visitors.

“She came my way and told me that she did not see the signs,” said Schmidt. “She didn’t seem happy about what was going on. She told me she wished the deer had guns.”

Missouri offers more than 100 managed deer hunts for archery, crossbow, muzzle loading, and modern firearms from mid-September through mid-January. MDC staff are on call at all times during managed hunts. Reports of hunting violations or other problems can be made at 1-800-392-1111.

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