Deer population remains steady across Missouri
With deer season approaching in a few months, it may be hard to believe deer were once scarce in the state.
Deer are common today -- so it may be hard to believe that 80 years ago there weren't any deer to hunt in Missouri. Bernice Morrison, who is 94, remembers a time when people couldn't hunt deer in the state -- not because it was illegal, but because there were almost no deer.
"The Missouri deer population was in a very bad shape by the early 1900's," Morrison, a retired Department of Conservation employee, said. "There was a survey done in the mid-1920's that estimated there was somewhere around 400 deer in Missouri."
In the 1930's, the Conservation Department decided to catch some of the few deer that remained in a preserve near Branson in hopes to repopulate the state. They trapped 26 does and four bucks and brought them over here to Caney Mountain," Morrison said. "That was the start of the deer herd at Caney Mountain." Bernice and his dad then monitored the new deer population at Caney Mountain Conservation Area. A lot of the deer in the state today can be traced to that small group of 30 deer.
"We didn't tranquilize so we had a deer in here that didn't want to be here," Morrison said. "You'd have to wrestle it to a smaller box; from there you have to get it onto a truck."
The two then caught the deer again at Caney Mountain and took them to other reserves throughout the state. "It caught on elsewhere in the state, and the deer population we have today is around a million deer." The deer population has been steady for nearly 40 years.
In the 1800's, mountain lions and wolves kept the deer in check. Now hunters do that.