Whitetail Deer Management

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  • Topic: Missouri, Deer, White-tailed deer
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Research Proposal: EC 315

John Kenyon

November 28, 2011

History and Purpose Statement
The history of white-tailed deer in Missouri shows positive and negative influences humans can have on wildlife. During presettlement times, the whitetail was abundant in Missouri, especially in the more fertile and diverse habitats of northern Missouri. The influx of European settlers to Missouri during the last half of the 19th century coincided with a rapid decline in the deer population. Unrestricted market hunting and habitat destruction, such as cutting, burning, farming and grazing forest lands, contributed most to this decline. Token laws restricting the killing of deer were passed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but they went largely unenforced. In 1925, the state’s deer herd was estimated to be only around 400. In response to these findings, the Missouri State Legislature declared deer season closed and made the first substantial effort to enforce its regulation. At the same time, deer brought to Missouri from Michigan were released onto five refuges in the Ozarks. In 1931, deer season reopened but resulted in a small harvest, which indicated a low population that was stable or declining. Only when the first Conservation Commission formed in 1937 did significant efforts to restore the whitetail begin to succeed. The Commission closed deer-hunting season from 1938 to 1943. During this closure, additional deer were stocked from Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and existing refuges within the state. Enforcement of the Wildlife Code of Missouri by professionally trained conservation agents helped deter poaching. By 1944, the statewide deer population soared to 15,000, and Missouri held its first deer season since the recovery effort had begun. Missouri’s deer management program has come a long way since 1944. That year, 7,557 hunters took 583 deer during a two-day, bucks-only season in 20 southern Missouri counties. In recent years, nearly 500,000 gun and bow hunters typically harvest around 300,000 deer annually during statewide seasons. The focus this research paper is to determine what factors are the highest contributors to the deer taken each rifle season. This research is based on the last 30 years of data collected from the Department of Conservation. The dependent variable is the number of deer killed each year in the Missouri 10-day rifle season. The independent variables which determine the dependent variable are the amount of tags pulled by in-state and out-of-state hunters, the precipitation in November, the average temperature in November, and the population of the white-tailed deer.

Definition of Variables
The dependent variable is the number of deer killed during the November rifle season by both in-state and out-of-state hunters. This only includes deer taken by legal methods during the legal 10-day season. This includes all counties in Missouri but does not include game ranches that are “high-fence” hunting areas. There is obviously more deer killed on highways, roadways, and poaching than what is included in this report but for accuracy reasons I only included deer numbers provided by the Department of Conservation. The primary independent variable is the number of deer tags purchased by hunters in Missouri in each of the respective years. In Missouri a deer transport tag is required to legally take a deer in Missouri. There are two types of tags; 1) antlerless deer and 2) any deer. The antlerless deer tag is required to take a female (doe) deer in the state of Missouri and an any deer tag can be used on either a buck or a doe. In most counties the doe tags are unlimited but the buck tags are restricted to one. This is largely to control Missouri’s deer herd. Tags can be purchased at most sporting goods stores including Wal-Mart, Kmart, Bass Pro Shops, and at the Department of Conservation. The numbers include all of the above as the were all legally purchased tags....
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