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Urban Hunts The Answer

Woodward's approach to deer overpopulation a bulls-eye

Urban Hunts The Answer
Hunting in urban areas is the answer to high deer populations. (Kate Suchan illustration)

If you have a plumbing problem, contact a plumber. If you have a deer problem, get with a deer hunter.Larry Woodward, co-host of “Outdoors in the Heartland” and “ScentBlocker Most Wanted,” knows how to fix the issue of excessive deer numbers in urban settings. He’s followed the comedy of errors right down the road from his home in Lincoln County, Mo.

“There’s hunting to be had in the urban areas for sure,” he said. “There’s places around St. Louis, or municipalities around there, a guy can kill a Boone and Crockett deer if he could get permission to hunt.”

Ah, there’s the rub. While some cities have approved urban hunts to thin an overpopulation in their herd, others are opposed. Many citizens realize the dangers, namely in car accidents, and have repeatedly asked officials to remedy the situation. Yet there are some vocal members who push for non-hunting methods. Woodward said those are a waste of money.

“They're spending thousands of dollars per deer to try and move them, and then from the stress, most of the deer die anyway,” he said. “Then there are others who don’t want to hurt them and want to shoot them with birth control so they don’t have offspring.”

“All you need is sharpshooters, bait and silencers so people don’t know they’re being killed. It’s just tree hugger ridiculousness. I want to be one of the companies that are taking their money.”

The danger and cost of having deer overpopulate cities are real. State Farm tracks deer-vehicle collisions, and from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012, there were 1.23 million with an average damage claim of $3,305.

The rut makes November the worst month, when drivers are three times more likely to hit a deer than any day between February and August. October and December rank second and third. In those months, some towns near Woodward have 15 collisions reported to police a day, yet it doesn’t take but one loud voice to nix a solid hunting plan.

“There’s people who talk to them until they’re blue in the face, trying to advocate bow hunters to come into their neighborhood and shoot these excess deer,” Woodward said. “The problem is they don’t want to see blood on our driveway or a deer run out in front of our house and die, or these hunters come and drag it off.

“That’s just ridiculous thinking. I want to go in these people’s houses and see if they have any meat in the freezer.”

Woodward said the fact that bow hunters pinpoint their shots on a deer and usually shoot from an elevated position makes it unlikely an accident could occur. He said many bow hunters would pay an extra fee to practice their trade, even if they were required to donate the deer to a food pantry.

“These days, with the equipment we have -- the bows and the broadheads -- and how good the actual hunters are, these deer could be shot with minimal impact to the cities, and it would save so much money,” he said. “There are areas around the U.S. that have changed their ways and are allowing ethical hunting to come trim their excess deer population, and it’s proven it works very, very well.”

Woodward said the alternatives can be uglier, like road kill left in the yard, or worse.


“They could go from spending thousands of dollars per deer that ultimately end up in the deer’s death. Whether it’s moving them and they die from the stress, or trying to make them infertile and they die from that,” he said. “Or the ultimate disaster and cruelty to animals, is they got so many they’re starving and dying of malnutrition. Mother Nature is way more cruel than any human taking one with a bow and an arrow.”

Read Woodward’s The Bear Whisperer, where he hand feeds one bear and trees another, and Straight to the Heartland, how he and partner Bob Richardson have seen it all in the wild.

Go to 2013 Deer Camp

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