Landowners and Deer

White-tailed deer are the favorite wild animal of many Missourians. It’s always a thrill to see one and, through the years, we’re seeing more and more of them. They now live in every county of Missouri and have spread out from our forests to our suburbs, cities, parks, gardens and farm fields.

Because most of Missouri’s deer are on private land, wildlife managers have to team with landowners to maintain a healthy deer population. Especially important in these partnerships are agricultural producers. Their crop fields can fuel large increases in deer numbers, and they are most affected by the results of having too many deer.

The Conservation Department recommends harvesting deer, especially does, during established seasons as the most effective management tool for landowners to control deer numbers.

In the past three years, the Missouri Conservation Commission has made significant changes to the regulations to help individual landowners control and regulate deer numbers on their property. More liberal antlerless permits, additional seasons, extended seasons, and the Telecheck system all make management easier for landowners.

It is possible for landowners to keep deer densities compatible with other land objectives while at the same time gaining recreational and economic value from deer and deer hunting.

The Brinker Example

Brinker Farms, located near Auxvasse in Callaway County, has developed ways to make the most of the deer that populate the approximately 3,200 acres under the family’s control. The farm, a partnership between Brinker brothers Kenny, Ronnie and Dale, includes both row crop production and a livestock operation.

The farm is in the transition zone between the rolling prairies, grasslands and vast row crop fields to the north and the heavily forested river hills to the south and east along the Missouri River.

The extensive row crop production provides plenty of waste grain for the deer. The Brinkers annually install food plots such as ladino clover and oats where soils are less productive and in areas difficult to farm. This can help concentrate deer for harvest.

Like many agricultural producers, Brinker Farms occasionally has trouble with deer along crop field edges, in the backyard garden, and in the pumpkin and strawberry patch. However, the family has become involved in deer management and enjoys the recreational benefits and family bonds established when spending time together in pursuit of deer.

“Deer do cause problems on the farm,” Kenny Brinker said, “We just consider it a part of our operation and make the best of them. Besides, the