Missouri: 2011 Whitetail Forecast

Missouri: 2011 Whitetail Forecast
Missouri: 2011 Whitetail Forecast
Jason Sumners, Missouri's statewide deer biologist, said his state's deer management focuses on quality, something that would be tough to argue as Missouri is one of the top 10 states for submitted Boone and Crockett bucks. But Sumners emphasized "quality" over "trophy."

"Our management has tended toward quality rather than trophies or deer numbers," he said. "Part of that is what hunters want, and part is the lower proportion of does in many parts of the state."

That allows biologists to "manage the herd with lower harvest numbers," which – along with harvesting more does and antler point restrictions – "allows us to bring bucks into older age classes."

Those older bucks plus a lot of deer makes Missouri one of the nation's top deer-hunting states.

Deer Population: 1.4 million

Economic Impact of Deer Hunting: $1.1 billion

Best Areas

Numbers and Quality

Sumners said that the central part of the state and north of the Missouri River are the best areas for both quality and numbers. "That's the primary agricultural part of the state," he noted.

Current Status of the Deer Population: 1-5 scale with 1 being poor and 5 being optimal

"I'd say a 4," Sumners said. "We've got good deer numbers across many parts of the state, although we do have some areas where deer numbers have declined to some degree, where they had peaked out previously."

Status 5 Years From Now

"I think I'd say 4 again. We've set the stage to have good management in the long term [including putting] increased effort into doing smaller-scale management to help landowners and hunters do a better job managing their populations."

He added, "I don't think any state will ever have optimal hunting opportunities because of outside influences like crop depredation, land ownership patterns and things like that."

Biggest Factors Over the Next 5 Years

"I think one of the significant challenges facing hunters as we move forward is access to private land," Sumners said. "Ninety-plus percent of Missouri is in private ownership, and an increasing proportion of land is being purchased or leased for recreational purposes. I don't think that will change anytime soon, and probably will only get worse.

"In terms of statewide management, that's not necessarily an issue as long as we maintain hunter numbers and are harvesting sufficient numbers of does to manage the population."

He noted that Missouri is one of the few states where hunter numbers have been rising – a good thing, except that it also increases competition for hunting spots.

Any Doom and Gloom?

To the question of whether he can foresee any areas of his state having a large population decline or crash at some point, Sumners said, "No, I really don't. Much of our land is in private ownership, and the sheer number of landowners interested in doing wildlife management in general is phenomenal."

In the shorter term, he is concerned a bit about epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) outbreaks if recent weather patterns of wet springs and hot, dry summers continue. "We've been getting extensive amounts of flooding, which kills vegetation and creates mud flats," he said. "Mud flats are breeding grounds for the midge that transmits the hemorrhagic virus, and deer enter through those areas to get to water. So the concern is [weather patterns are] creating these areas that are ripe for outbreaks."

Recommended for You


Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.


MidwayUSA Pro Series Shooting Mat

G&F Staff

Shooters across the U.S. are using this competition shooting mat.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New Optimum and Optimum TS Downriggers from Canon

From rugged reliability to smooth integration of cutting edge technology across several different platforms, OSG's Lynn Burkhead learns that there's much to like about the new Optimum and Optimum TS downriggers from Canon.

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Glenn Walker talks us through the soy-based technology that makes Lure Lock cases spill-proof and scent-proof. With Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Other Freshwater

6 Tips for Nighttime Crappie

Keith Sutton - June 19, 2017

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the...

Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?


Catfish Night & Day: How to Catch 'Em Both Ways

Terry Madewell - April 04, 2018

Catfish tend to be found in shallower water at night, but they are still active during the...

See More Stories

More Stories


Predator Hunting: 3 Ways to Find Elusive Coyotes

Brad Fitzpatrick - June 26, 2018

Calling all coyotes:'These predators are efficient, so finding and calling them to the gun can


Call Our Complex Coyotes

Brad Fitzpatrick - July 13, 2017

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are


Game & Fish's Top 10 Stories of 2018

G&F Online Staff - December 24, 2018

From a world-record crappie to the best gear of the year, these hunting and fishing articles...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.