Lessons in Wildlife Management
Initially, wildlife management in Missouri was skewed toward protection. In the early 1900s, for example, very few white-tailed deer were left in Missouri. The management of the white-tailed deer called first for protecting what we had left. This allowed the deer population to increase; and through live trapping and moving, the population began to grow. This growth led to surpluses.
In 1944, the first deer season was held in 20 southern Missouri counties—7,537 hunters harvested 583 deer during a two-day, bucks-only season.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Missouri had short, any-deer seasons. As hunting pressure increased, this type of management became outdated because the harvest of does could not be controlled.
Due to a decline in the number of turkeys, turkey hunting was closed in Missouri in 1937. After being closed for 23 years, Missouri’s first modern turkey season was held in April 1960. At that time, hunting was permitted for only three days, in 14 counties, and with a one male bird limit—698 hunters took only 94 turkeys.
Regulation-based management is now in place to limit the numbers of wildlife that can be taken. Today, deer and turkey hunting seasons are composed of different portions to help ensure their populations remain healthy.
Wildlife managers learned there is more to conservation than just protecting wildlife. With the proper management and habitat conditions, wildlife populations can yield a surplus that can be harvested by hunters.