Shaping the Future with Missouri’s First Governor’s Mentored Deer Hunt

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Over the weekend, the Missouri Department of Conservation hosted the first Governor’s Mentored Deer Hunt, marking a significant milestone in wildlife conservation and the preservation of hunting heritage in the state. The event occurred during Missouri’s new antlerless rifle season and was made possible through partnerships with prominent organizations committed to the cause.

Mentored hunts occurred across several counties, offering an invaluable opportunity for both new hunters and landowners facing challenges with increasing deer populations. Partnerships with the Conservation Federation of Missouri, NWTF, National Deer Association, Missouri Hunting Heritage Foundation, Pheasants/Quail Forever, Missouri Disabled Sportsmen, Missouri’s Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, Whitetails Unlimited, ALPS Outdoorz, Dead End Game Calls, MO Woods and Wildlife and Missouri Backcountry Hunters and Anglers played a pivotal role in bringing this event to fruition.

Deer populations have been on the rise across Missouri, particularly in areas where intensive wildlife management practices are in place or regions with a significant agricultural component. Landowners with larger properties have found it challenging to achieve the necessary doe harvest to stabilize or reduce deer populations. The Governor’s Mentored Deer Hunt seeks to address this issue by providing access to these properties during a special antlerless-only rifle season.

One notable advantage of this season’s timing, well in advance of the rut, is its ability to minimize interference with regular hunting activities on these properties, aligning seamlessly with broader efforts to effectively conserve and manage wildlife populations.

Deer hunters play a crucial role in helping state agencies achieve deer management goals by maintaining populations at desirable levels. Declining hunter numbers pose a significant concern for all involved in conservation efforts which sparked the collaborative efforts to recruit, reactivate and retain new hunters (R3 programs).

The Governor’s Mentored Deer Hunt is a vital part of this strategy, aiming to introduce newcomers to hunting while providing them with essential knowledge about conservation, deer biology, hunting strategies, safety and etiquette.

“This event is a perfect marriage of providing opportunities that help accomplish agency and organizational R3 objectives while at the same time assisting landowners with large land holdings and high deer densities to accomplish harvest goals determined in their property-specific plans designed to achieve and maintain optimal herd health for their properties,” said John Burk, NWTF district biologist for Missouri, Iowa and Illinois.

Hunters harvest deer in Pike County. Pictured from left to right: Audrey Simmons, John Simmons, Cade Robinson and Alyssa Morrison.

The Governor’s Deer Hunt exceeded expectations, with 25 participants selected to attend a comprehensive hunting clinic and participate in the hunt, fostering an atmosphere of learning, camaraderie and conservation.

Each property across the eight MDC regions welcomed three to five hunters, all paired with experienced adult mentors. Each hunt comprised a social gathering on Friday, October 6, followed by an orientation session, morning and afternoon hunts on Saturday, and concluded with a morning hunt on Sunday.

Angela and Peter Brune pose with their harvested deer.

The success of the first Governor’s Mentored Deer Hunt sets the stage for continued collaboration among partners and paves the way for future conservation initiatives.

For further information about the Governor’s Mentored Deer Hunt, contact MDC Outreach and Education Coordinator Rob Garver at 573-522-4115 ext. 6507 or at [email protected].

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