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Discover Nature: Deer Harvest

An adult buck (male white tailed deer) with antlers stands in green, brown grasses at the edge of a wooded area.
White-tailed deer are in rut this week, which means they’re mating and especially active this time of year. Watch out on the road for these mammals on the move, and take care to wear bright “hunter orange” if spending time in nature.";s:3:

This week on Discover Nature, watch for white-tailed deer in rut, and celebrate 75 years of modern deer hunting in Missouri.

In the fall, fawns lose their white spots, adults’ coats take on a grayish-brown color, and bucks boast antlers to fight for territory and mating rights.  

Deer were essential to American Indians and early settlers, providing food, hides, sinews for bowstrings, and bones for tools. 

By the 1930s, habitat loss and unregulated hunting decimated Missouri’s deer numbers to just a few hundred animals – mostly limited to small herds in the Ozarks. 

But more than 80 years of ongoing conservation efforts have brought Missouri’s deer population to more than a million.  

Today, Missouri hunters harvest about 300-thousand deer annually, helping to balance the deer population and providing a billion-dollar boost to Missouri business, nourishing our cultural heritage and putting food on the table for families across the state. 

During “the rut,” or mating season, deer are especially active.  This time of year, be on the lookout for them when driving, especially between dusk and dawn. 

If hiking in the woods, beware of hunting season dates, and wear bright “hunter-orange” clothing to make your presence known. 

Learn more about Missouri’s native white-tailed deer herd, including the conservation efforts that brought them back from the brink of extirpation, and how scientists are fighting new diseases that threaten their health today, with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Kyle Felling was born in the rugged northwest Missouri hamlet of St. Joseph (where the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended). Inspired from a young age by the spirit of the early settlers who used St. Joseph as an embarkation point in their journey westward, Kyle developed the heart of an explorer and yearned to leave for adventures of his own. Perhaps as a result of attending John Glenn elementary school, young Kyle dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but was disheartened when someone told him that astronauts had to be good at math. He also considered being a tow truck driver, and like the heroes of his favorite childhood television shows (The A-Team and The Incredible Hulk) he saw himself traveling the country, helping people in trouble and getting into wacky adventures. He still harbors that dream.
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