Miscellany

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: How far do deer roam in an area?

A: The size and shape of a deer’s home range vary with habitat quality, deer density, sex, time of year and the deer’s age. Deer that live in the best habitats can satisfy all their daily requirements in a smaller area; deer that live in less diverse habitats must travel to find suitable food and cover. Most home ranges tend to be elongated, and researchers theorize that this shape maximizes available resources. Deer have the smallest home ranges during summer and the largest during fall. Average annual home range sizes for radio-tagged deer in Missouri is about a square mile, but in rare cases deer movements of up to 100 miles have been documented.

Q: What’s the minimum weight bow an archer may use for deer, and what’s the minimum size rifle?

A: Ethical behavior and marksmanship are more important than bow weight and caliber. There is no bow weight restriction for archers; firearms deer hunters may use any centerfire rifle cartridge with expanding projectiles. A conscientious hunter who is capable with lighter equipment will do better than one who’s overpowered and inaccurate. For more information contact your local MDC office.

Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov.

Agent Notes

The benefits of abundant wildlife far outweigh the problems they cause.

Growing up in rural Missouri in the 1980s, I never experienced anything but an abundance of fish and wildlife resources. However, above our basement stairway hung a shoulder-mount of a 10-point deer that served as a reminder that the state’s fish and wildlife haven’t always been so plentiful. My father loved to tell about the hunt and harvest of that deer. He usually ended his tale by saying, “You know, there weren’t very many deer back then.”

I often hear complaints that have resulted from our current high population levels of wildlife. People tell us about groundhogs burrowing beneath barns, raccoons strewing trash, otters killing fish, Canada geese fouling lawns, and deer eating crops and landscaping plants. We need to address these problems—and we do—but let’s not forget the benefits our bountiful wildlife populations provide. We can harvest more deer, we have longer seasons on ducks, furbearers and archery deer and turkey, and we can enjoy many more wildlife viewing opportunities.

We are fortunate to live in a time—and place—where wildlife populations are healthy and thriving. However, it’s easy to forget how far we have come and how much effort went into fish and wildlife restoration. As G. K. Chesterton once said, “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

Jade Wright is the conservation agent for Holt County, which is in the Northwest region. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional Conservation office.

Time Capsule

June 1967

“Spring Country” by A. George Morris highlights some of the great streams of the Missouri Ozarks. Vacationers, nature lovers and certain commercial industries have been drawn to the more than 160 springs in this region. These include Big Spring located in Carter County, the largest spring in the Ozarks, where an average of 252 million gallons per day emerges from the base of a cliff as a small river, and Santa Fe Spring in Saline County, located in Arrow Rock State Park, one of the smaller springs at 60,000 gallons per day. The latter claims historical fame as a watering place for stage coaches that stopped at the tavern there. For years, the Department of Conservation and the Missouri State Park board have managed these areas, and they are popular with both anglers and vacationers.—Contributed by the Circulation staff

Behind the Code

“Edible” isn’t allowable on Missouri’s Natural Areas.

by Tom Cwynar

Missouri’s Wildlife Code allows people to enjoy nature’s bounty by permitting them to harvest nuts, berries, fruits, edible wild greens and mushrooms from Conservation Department areas for personal consumption.

Missouri’s Wildlife Code is a permissive code. In this case, this means that people can’t pick flowers, dig roots or take plants or parts of plants other than nuts, berries, fruits, edible wild greens and mushrooms from conservation areas because these things are not specifically allowed.

Chapter 11.135 of the Code goes on to say that none of the allowed items may be taken from the grounds of the nature centers in St. Louis, Springfield, Jefferson City or Cape Girardeau, or from the Department’s headquarters property in Jefferson City. The same restriction applies to the grounds of Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Kansas City and Rockwoods Reservation in St. Louis, except that visitors may harvest mushrooms for personal use.

Conservation Department Botanist Tim Smith said these restrictions are necessary because of the high number of visitors to these areas. If taking was allowed, there soon wouldn’t be anything left to take.

The Wildlife Code also prohibits taking edible wild greens from Missouri’s designated natural areas. According to Smith, this restriction helps maintain the integrity of the state’s natural areas by protecting their often unique vegetation from damage.