2009-2010 deer harvest tops previous year's figure
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Strong youth, muzzleloader and archery harvests pushed the total to nearly 300,000.
|Missouri hunters killed 299,461 deer during the 2009-2010 firearms and archery deer seasons. (Missouri Department of Conservation photo)|
The 2009-2010 deer season closed Jan. 15 with the end of archery hunting. Altogether, hunters checked 299,461 deer.
The firearms deer season got off to a good start as hunters bagged nearly twice as many deer during the four-day urban portion of firearms deer season as they had the previous year. Youths maintained this pace, checking almost 3,000 more deer in the two-day early youth portion than in 2008.
Things slowed down dramatically during opening weekend of the November portion. Torrential rains descended on much of the state on the second day, reducing deer activity and keeping many hunters indoors. With half the weekend washed out, hunters killed only 86,200 deer.
Opening weekend ordinarily accounts for approximately 60 percent of the November portion harvest. In 2008, hunters checked more than 98,000 deer on opening weekend, and that was down considerably from the record of more than 133,000 set in 2004.
Hunters made up some of the opening-weekend deficit of 12,000 deer during the remaining nine days of the November hunt, but still closed that portion with a modest harvest of 193,155.
Ten years ago, a reduced November harvest guaranteed a low end-of-season tally. But with the 12-day antlerless portion still ahead, plus 11 days of muzzleloader hunting and a two-day late youth portion still to come, hunters rallied to catch up.
The antlerless harvest topped the previous year by more than 7,000. Muzzleloader hunters set a new record during their portion of the season, a 55-percent increase from the previous year. Young hunters shot 1,706 deer during the late youth portion, in spite of brutally cold weather. This made the total youth harvest, a 44-percent increase from 2008.
Firearms hunters handed the baton to archers with a comfortable lead of 10,000 deer on the 2008 deer harvest. Bowhunters never looked back, topping the record archery harvest set in 2008 by 7,538. The deer that archers checked made Missouri’s 2009-2010 deer harvest the fourth-largest on record.
The 2009-2010 deer season included 42 days of firearms hunting and 112 days of archery hunting. Seasons and harvest totals were:
• Urban portion Oct. 9-12 – 1,242.
• Early youth portion Oct. 31-Nov. 1 – 13,328.
• November portion Nov. 14-24 – 193,155
• Antlerless portion Nov. 25-Dec. 6 – 22,151.
• Muzzleloader portion Dec. 19-29 – 15,907
• Late youth portion Jan. 2-3 – 1,706.
• Archery season Sept. 15-Nov. 13 and Nov. 25-Jan 15 – 51,972.
The Conservation Department recorded 10 firearms-related deer hunting incidents, one of which was fatal.
Archers harvest a bumper crop of deer, turkeys
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Missouri bowhunters topped the 50,000 mark for the first time in modern history and checked 3,000-plus wild turkeys.
|Missouri hunters checked 51,972 deer and 3,263 wild turkeys during the 2009-2010 archery hunting season. (Missouri Department of Conservation photo)|
ARCHERY DEER HARVEST SETS RECORD
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, archers shot 51,972 deer between Sept. 15 and Jan. 15. That is an increase of 7,538 or 17 percent from the previous archery harvest record. It is the first time in the archery season’s 64-year history that the harvest has topped 50,000.
“The number of archers has increased a bit the last three or four years,” said Resource Scientist Lonnie Hansen, who oversees Missouri’s deer-management program. “This might explain some of the harvest increase, but I do not think it explains all of the harvest change. Deer numbers have been stable in most parts of the state in recent years, while they have decreased slightly in other areas. I am not sure why we continue to set records. I think over time archers have become more skilled. Archery equipment has gotten better, too.”
The 2009-2010 archery deer kill topped the previous record of 44,434, which was set in the 2008-2009 archery season. Top counties in 2009-2010 were St. Louis with 1,076 deer checked, Jackson with 1,048 and Franklin with 1,013.
The Conservation Department issued 356,246 antlerless deer hunting permits for the 2009-2010 archery season, compared to 338,229 in 2008-2009. This increase of 11,082 permits was mostly due to a jump of 8,020 in archery antlerless deer hunting permit sales.
Hansen said increased sales of archery antlerless permits might reflect the slow economy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 9.5 percent of Missourians were unemployed in November. A $7 antlerless tag enabled many unemployed hunters to put 60 pounds of lean, red meat in the freezer, an inexpensive way to stretch their grocery budgets.
The Conservation Federation of Missouri reported brisk activity in the state’s approximately 180 Share the Harvest programs, which encourage hunters to donate venison to food pantries and other charities. Many of these locally organized programs pay the entire cost of processing donated deer. This makes it easy for skilled hunters to share their bounty with less fortunate neighbors. Last year, hunters donated more than 250,000 pounds of venison through Share the Harvest.
Missouri held its first archery deer season in Crawford County in 1946. The season lasted just three days, and hunters were limited to taking bucks. In spite of liberalizations that included doubling the season length, permitting the harvest of does and opening 40 additional counties, archers bagged only eight deer during the first eight years of the season.
ARCHERY TURKEY HARVEST A RECORD, TOO
Archers shot 3,298 wild turkeys during the 2009-10 season, setting another record. Top archery turkey counties were Franklin with 95 checked, Texas with 80 and Wright with 71.
Resource Scientist Tom Dailey took over Missouri’s turkey management program in 2008, a tough time for the state’s turkey flock. Cold, wet springs have cut into turkey nesting success over the past five years. A freak Easter freeze in 2007 and record rainfall in 2008 and 2009 delivered a one-two punch to the state’s turkey flock at a time when the state’s turkey flock had reached a natural plateau.
“I’m excited,” said Dailey. “There have not been too many record highs during my career. The growth phase of our turkey population ended more than a decade ago. After years of setting harvest records every year or two, things leveled off, and then we got this run of bad luck with spring weather. It is a welcome change to have archers post this new record fall harvest.”
Like Hansen, Dailey attributes the record archery turkey harvest to advances in hunting skill and equipment.
“A hunting culture takes time to develop,” said Dailey. “As older archers accumulate knowledge and pass it on to new hunters, the hunting population gets more skilled and savvy. On top of that, bows have gotten much better over the years, and there are even special broadheads designed just for turkey hunting. I wonder, too, if increasing use of ground blinds might be contributing to success.”
He said another key to the record archery harvest was an abundance of young turkeys in the Ozarks. Reproduction last spring and summer was up in the Ozarks, but down in northern Missouri where much of the record rainfall fell. Seventy-four percent of the archery turkey harvest was taken in counties along or south of I-70.
Dailey said the combined fall harvest of 11,649 from firearms and archery seasons, will have no effect on the number of turkeys available this spring. The fall harvest, which amounts to less than 3 percent of the statewide turkey population, is insignificant compared to normal annual losses to predators, disease and other natural causes.
Managed turkey hunt application deadline is March 11
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
You can apply online for most of the hunts listed in the spring turkey hunting guide.
JEFFERSON CITY–Turkey hunters have until March 11 to apply for managed hunts during Missouri’s 2010 spring turkey season.
Missouri hosts special spring turkey hunts at August A. Busch, Bois D’Arc, Caney Mountain and Weldon Spring conservation areas and at Current River State Park (SP) and Smithville Lake. These hunting opportunities are allocated by random drawing.
This is the first year for the Current River SP hunt. Also for the first time this year, all 18 hunts are listed in the spring turkey hunting information guide. The booklet, including detailed application instructions, is online at mdc.mo.gov/7498. The print version will be available from hunting permit vendors statewide in February.
Hunters may apply individually or in groups of up to three. An individual applying as a member of a party has the same chance of being drawn as someone who applies alone. Successful applicants will receive notice of their hunt dates and other information by mail. Drawing results will be posted March 26 at mdc.mo.gov/7498.
In addition to the 12 events open to all hunters, this year’s offerings include managed hunts for archers, youths age 11 through 15 and for persons with disabilities. All take place during the youth turkey season April 10 and 11 or the regular turkey season April 19 through May 9.
The number of hunters allowed to take part in managed hunts ranges from 10 to 40. Participants in some youth hunts and the disabled hunt at Smithville Lake must complete a pre-hunt orientation. Consequently, hunters are urged not to apply for these hunts if they cannot attend the orientation.
The bag limit for managed hunts is one male turkey or turkey with visible beard. Turkeys taken during a managed hunt count toward the season limit of two. Hunters who shoot a turkey during a managed hunt before April 26 may not take another during the first week of the regular turkey season.
All-terrain vehicles are prohibited on areas with managed turkey hunts.
The 2010 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet also contains a table listing conservation areas where turkey hunting is allowed, and information about area regulations.
Outgoing Conservation Department Director recalls challenges, rewards
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
John Hoskins counts protecting Missouri’s unique system of conservation governance among his proudest achievements.
|John Hoskins retires from the post of Conservation Department Director Jan. 15. He took over the job July 1, 2002. (Missouri Department of Conservation photo)|
Hoskins became Missouri’s seventh Conservation Department director in July 2002. He was the first conservation agent to rise through the ranks to the agency’s top job.
Hoskins traces his passion for the natural world to his childhood on a small family farm in the Ozarks. His first exposure to the Conservation Department was having a friend whose father operated a fire tower for the agency.
The future director was not thinking of a conservation career when he enrolled as a business major at Southeast Missouri State University, but it took him only a year to decide he wanted to study something that was more important to him personally. He also wanted a job that would enable him to stay connected to his beloved Ozarks. In the fall of his sophomore year, he changed his major to biology.
“I realized I was more interested in ecological studies than accounting,” says Hoskins. “So I pursued a degree to be a science teacher with a minor in social science, because I was also interested in government and history. Years later, those classes in business, biology and social science all fit together.”
He taught science in the Charleston and Ellington schools for two years before learning that the Conservation Department was taking applications for a class of 20 new conservation agent trainees. His application was one of four from Ozarks natives that rose to the top of a huge stack.
INTO THE PRESSURE COOKER
Over the next 20 years, Hoskins moved up to positions as Protection Division regional supervisor, General Services section chief and Protection Division chief. When he succeeded Jerry Conley as director, he stepped into a pressure cooker.
“There was no honeymoon,” he recalls. “I came to work one morning soon after I became director and found a TV camera set up in the courtyard with a reporter waiting to interview me about a scathing report from the state auditor. I felt like a deer in the headlights, but we didn’t hide from the issues. I got out from behind the desk and gave live interviews around the state. That was a rather stressful introduction to the director’s job.”
Hoskins became director at a challenging moment in the Conservation Department’s history. Revenues failed to keep up with inflation for the first time since Missourians established the one-eighth of 1 percent conservation sales tax. The tax had enabled the agency to establish nongame wildlife management programs, buy land for public recreation and expand services such as education, nature centers and aid to farmers and other private landowners.
“When I came on in 2002, critics were essentially saying we had achieved what we told the people we would do, so we didn’t need the sales tax anymore,” Hoskins recalls. “There was little recognition that the challenges facing Missouri’s wild resources were as great as ever.
“I guess I was a little naïve. I felt like our mission and our values served the public in wonderful ways, and I was taken aback by the level of animosity that some people expressed toward conservation.”
Hoskins’ first big challenge was defending the sales tax and other hard-won conservation gains. Doing that meant shoring up public support for the agency’s mission.
“We decided to communicate directly and personally with the public. I did more than 50 town-hall meetings in my first three years as director. We advertised the meetings ahead of time, took senior staff members along and tried to get people to come out and talk to us. We wanted folks to know that those who ran the department were real people with genuine intentions who would listen to them.”
Most of those meetings were very friendly, but Hoskins also met people who clearly did not like some things the Conservation Department was doing.
“It was very candid and very challenging, and I had to get over my stage fright about being in front of people. I didn’t get to just read speeches. I had to respond to what people were saying.”
In 2004, the department changed public meetings to focus on specific issues, such as deer, turkey, waterfowl, trout and catfish management.
“We held something like 30 deer meetings alone, and where I might have drawn as many as 80 people to some of the director’s forums, we would have big meeting rooms jammed with hundreds of people for the deer meetings. I think we proved to a lot of people that we wanted their input.”
Hoskins says these meetings were excellent examples of an approach to conservation that is “fundamentally citizen focused and led.”
“This is not government as usual. For those who want to condemn government and say it’s too cumbersome, or it’s not responsive – none of that fits our Conservation Department. The people of Missouri set up a constitutional framework for this agency so it is managed by four citizens (Commissioners) who serve without compensation. Through the years, that has made an enormous difference in how our staff works with the public.”
DOING MORE WITH LESS
Intensive, continuing contact with citizens ensured that the Conservation Department’s mission stayed in touch with Missourians’ desires. But things were not easy, even with strong citizen support. The state’s economy was struggling to recover from a dip in 2001, and this meant diminished revenues for all state agencies, including the Conservation Department. Hoskins says he was fortunate to work for conservation commissioners whose experience and vision suited them well to address these challenges.
“When I became director, there were people on the commission who definitely were the right people for the time. I remember guidance from Howard Wood, Stephen Bradford, Anita Gorman and Cynthia Metcalfe as I began the job. They said, essentially, that we were on a precipice, and we had to improve our financial management very quickly. Together, we took a conservative approach, and it has served us well. We focused more on taking care of what we had and less on expanding infrastructure.”
Hoskins says the Conservation Commission followed through on commitments it had made to build nature centers and other facilities, but the approach to these commitments changed. Challenge grants encouraged local partners to share the cost of new facilities, strengthening community support for the projects. Innovative funding partnerships stretched scarce Conservation Department funds, allowing the agency to accomplish much more than otherwise would have been possible.
“We did participate, but we didn’t dominate, and that is likely the pattern for the future. We focused more on trying to direct our resources to better manage public land, take care of existing facilities, and offer good conservation services. The public expects us to have a high-quality program.”
Much of the work necessary to ensure quality services in an economic downturn was neither glamorous nor pleasant. Hoskins reduced the number of administrative units in the agency and changed its structure for greater economy and efficiency.
“Those changes were difficult. I was keenly aware that they affected people’s lives, and I didn’t take those things lightly. But I had to do them because I felt like they were the best thing for conservation. As I prepared to leave the job, I found myself doing it again, reducing the workforce and closing offices that didn’t provide Missourians the highest value for their conservation dollars.”
THE BEST OFFENSE
Hoskins says he and the Conservation Commissioners have always agreed their most important responsibility was defending Missouri’s unique system of conservation governance. Missouri citizens set up the system in 1936 through the initiative petition process. Their goal was removing conservation policy from the political arena.
To achieve this, they established a balanced, bipartisan commission of four citizens appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. The commission has exclusive authority to manage Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife for the public good. Professional, science-based management over the past 73 years has prevented hunting and fishing regulations and resource management from becoming political footballs as sometimes happens elsewhere.
“Having a sales tax for conservation comes with a heavy burden of responsibility to prove ourselves worthy of dedicated funding. I believe today, even in the environment we are in, with the economy and the problems we have in our country and our state, Missourians remain very supportive of the conservation mission. That gives me a lot of satisfaction.”
Hoskins says Conservation Department Director-Designate Bob Ziehmer has been a key player in maintaining support for the agency’s independence and funding. He counts Ziehmer among the many citizen and professional conservationists who have been in the right place at the right time. “I have confidence that Bob Ziehmer will meet tomorrow’s challenges and move conservation forward in the years to come.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD
Hoskins says one of the greatest rewards of the past seven and a half years has been working with the Conservation Department’s professional staff.
“From the time I went to work as a conservation agent to my time in the director’s office, it has been a privilege to work with such a great group of people and be part of the culture of excellence that exists here. I was working on something that was important to me personally and to those around me, and I was proud of it. Our mission satisfies a need that is very important to Missourians. It is hard to find a job with that combination anywhere else.”
Asked what advice he has for those who will carry on the work of conservation after he retires, Hoskins cited the importance of staying connected to Missouri citizens and keeping Missourians connected to the land.
“Conservation will only succeed if Missourians understand what the department is doing and feel they have a personal stake in the outdoors. People defend the natural world when they understand it and are engaged with it. That means you have to get people outdoors, whether it’s hunting wild turkeys, catching bluegills, visiting a nature center or doing nature photography. One of the most critical jobs is making sure Missourians have opportunities to connect personally with nature and have fun outdoors.
“We each have a role in fostering a love of nature in the hearts of the next generation. We should all try to leave the earth a little better and brighter for our having been here, and sharing nature with others is a great way to do that.”
Attend February workshops on landscaping with MO plants
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Landscape professionals and enthusiasts are invited to attend “Landscape Design with Missouri in Mind” from 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 or 27 at the University of Central Missouri (UCM) Elliot Union, Room 237, in Warrensburg. The Feb. 26 workshop is for landscaping professionals. The Feb.27 workshop is for gardeners, homeowners and other landscaping enthusiasts. Seating is limited. Registration deadline is Feb 12. The registration fee, which includes lunch, is $25 if received by Feb. 5 and $35 after. To register, visit GrowNative.org. For more information, contact the MDA at 866-466-8283, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Landscape Design with Missouri in Mind” is sponsored by Grow Native! and the UCM School of Agriculture. Grow Native! is a cooperative program of the Missouri departments of Conservation (MDC) and Agriculture (MDA) to help protect and restore our state's biodiversity by increasing conservation awareness of native plants and their effective use.
Each workshop will provide practical in-depth information on landscaping with native plants to create beauty and to support biodiversity. The workshops will focus on landscape design techniques, plant selection, installation methods and maintenance practices.
Author Dave Tylka will open the workshops with his presentation, “Native Landscaping – A Natural Way to Spice up Life.” Tylka will use his book, “Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People,” as the foundation of his presentation. As part of their registration fee, workshop participants will receive copies of the MDC companion book, “Tried and True: Missouri Native Plants for Your Yard.”
MDC Natural History Biologist Emily Horner will present “Know the Lay of Your Land.” Alice Longfellow of Longfellow’s Garden Center will present “Put Plants in the Right Place.” MDC Private Land Conservationist Steve Hoel will present “Reconstructing Prairie.” MDC Urban Forester Chuck Conner will present “Native Trees for Landscapes Large and Small.”
The workshops will end with a hands-on application session where participants create landscape designs for native plant gardens. Participants also have opportunities to win prizes and visit with exhibitors displaying and selling related products and services.
Youths brave wintry blast, set deer-harvest record
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
The combined kill during the early and late youth deer hunts was the largest since Missouri’s youth deer season began in 2001.
JEFFERSON CITY—Wind blew, snow flew, and the mercury dropped to bone-chilling depths during the late portion of Missouri’s youth deer hunting season. But in spite of beastly weather, young hunters managed to check nearly as many deer as they did during the same period last year, bringing Missouri’s youth deer harvest to its highest level ever.
Hunters age 6 through 15 checked 1,706 deer Jan. 2 and 3. That is just 66 fewer than were checked during the January portion of the 2008-2009 youth hunt. It was a remarkable achievement, considering the weather.
Last year, high temperatures during the late portion of the youth hunt ranged from the 50s in southeastern Missouri to the 20s in the state’s northwest corner. This year, high temperatures during the January youth hunt ranged from single digits in the north to around freezing in the south. Thermometers dipped below minus 10 degrees in some parts of the state during the weekend hunt, and winds of up to 20 mph provided a further discouragement to young hunters seeking trophy bucks or venison for their families’ freezers.
Young hunters checked 13,328 deer during the early youth hunt on Halloween weekend, bringing the 2009-2010 youth harvest to 15,034. That is 2,862 more than last year and 1,568 more than in 2004, the previous high-water mark for the youth season.
Youngsters checked 6,277 deer during Missouri’s first youth deer hunt in 2001. The youth portion was two days long from 2001 through 2007.
High counties for the January portion of the youth hunt were Wayne with 45 deer checked, Macon, Osage and Sullivan with 37, and Pike with 36.
The youth harvest brings the 2009-2010 firearms deer harvest to 247,489. That is 3.6 percent above last year’s firearms deer harvest.
As of Jan. 4, archery deer hunters already had checked well over 48,000 deer during the 2009-2010 season. That is more than 4,000 over the 2008-2009 harvest, which was a record. Archery deer season runs through Jan. 15.