Twenty-seven hunters took 36 total deer during a managed deer hunt held in December at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in an effort to reduce the animal's overpopulation at the Camdenton recreational area.
According to Greg Jones, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) permit services supervisor, the 27 hunters involved in the two-day managed deer hunt held Dec. 14-15 took three antlered bucks, four button bucks and 29 does. At Ha Ha Tonka State Park, a maximum of 50 hunters could utilize center-fire weapons only and were allowed three antlerless deer permits. The park was closed during the two-day hunt.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park held its last managed deer hunt in 2011. Jones said a total of 60 deer were taken during that event.
"There were 36 hunters who took deer that year," he said. "Five antlered bucks, 12 button bucks and 43 does (were taken during the hunt)."
Ha Ha Tonka State Park was one of six state parks that held two-day managed deer hunts during Dec. 14-15 to help reduce deer populations on their grounds. Harry S. Truman, St. Francois, Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial, Stockton and Knob Noster state parks also held managed deer hunts.
According to a March 2013 letter to MDC Regulations Committee Chairman Tom Draper from Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Executive Director Sara Parker Pauley, the DNR has held special managed hunts to reduce or prevent deer overpopulations at various state parks since 1987. Pauley said DNR assesses deer numbers at several parks annually and if needed requests the MDC's assistance in providing for special managed deer hunts where population densities exceed 25 deer per square mile or where deer cause excessive harm to park and adjacent resources.
"Our assessments are based on information variously gathered per helicopter counts, staff observations of deer numbers relative to previous years, numbers of years hunted or since the last hunt, numbers and trends in hunter success rates from previous years, the quantity and magnitude of deer browse compared to previous years, numbers if any of vehicle incidents and comments or complaints from neighboring landowners," Pauley said in the letter.
Pauley said there are 16 state parks in Missouri where hunts are being periodically held to reduce deer population and 20 that the DNR surveyed or assessed in 2012 for managed deer hunts in 2013. Most of those parks were within the acceptable criteria of 25 deer per square mile; however, the six parks that held managed deer hunts needed to reduce its deer population numbers, she said.
Pauley said the DNR also requested to hold 60 days of hunting - split in 30 days for deer and turkey hunting - through youth deer hunts held in November 2013, muzzle loader deer hunts in late December 2013 and youth spring turkey hunts held this spring at Current River State Park. DNR is also researching ways to hold a special managed deer hunt this fall at Pomme De Terre State Park.
The hunt at Ha Ha Tonka State Park is one of many managed deer hunts held in the Lake Area. Others held within the Lake's municipalities were for archery held Sept. 15 through Jan. 15 and included the towns of Camdenton, Osage Beach and Lake Ozark. Lake Ozark did not report any deer harvested for its second managed deer hunt. However, Camdenton reported 13 deer harvested during its third annual managed deer hunt, and Osage Beach saw 68 harvested in its fifth hunt, with a total of 428 deer harvested since 2009.
The Village of Four Seasons and small neighborhoods at Lake Area communities have also held special managed deer hunts in the past.