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2015 Missouri Deer Season Recap

Summarizing the 2015 Missouri Deer Season ....weather, weather, and more inclement weather contributed to a very unusual 2015 Missouri Deer Season. Camera activity was soft, many crop fields in Missouri didn’t get planted (one number I heard was 30% of all tillable did not get planted), and unseasonable warm weather kept the deer movement nocturnal for most of October and November. On the Missouri Department of conservations web page, there seems to be a growing question about the health of the deer herd and deer numbers in Missouri. Even with all the challenging conditions, we ended up harvesting the exact number of deer off our farm as in years past, 6. We had several guests hunting on the property and our run of “first time bow kill” continued with a nice 7 point in October. My son Tom, put a heart shot on a doe in October, but that was the extent of our archery season on the farm. I had an opportunity to hunt my brothers’ farm right before rifle season in early November. We had an interesting hunt to say the least. John had a beautiful ten pointer come to within 50 yards before heading into the underbrush and out-of-sight. I had a small doe come in at 5:00 p.m. and sent a G5 striker right through her. I waited until 6:00 before exiting my stand. The minute my foot hit the ground, she jumped up 40 yards away and looked back at my silhouette. I crouched down and slowly backed out of the area. Upon returning the next morning to start the recovery, I notice large black crows flying overhead and dropping into the field where I’m hoping my doe lay. As I approached the downed area, I was sickened to see hide, bone, a hoof, and blood everywhere. The coyotes found her overnight and made relatively short work of her. In speaking with my son who has done quite a bit of coyote research and hunting, he stated that there was minimal possibility that a coyote could eat an entire deer. He was right, it wasn’t a coyote, it was ten plus! When I resumed hunting that morning, I had 5 coyotes running the ditch behind my stand. When I radioed my brother, on the other side of the farm, he stated he had four or five in sight in a field in front of him. Maybe coyotes do have a significant impact on our deer herd. One big difference this season for me was the lack of 3.5 - 5 year old deer on camera on the farm, or seen while in the stand. I had a small 7 and a spike jousting in front of me one night. One forky was a regular visitor to our farm and graced his face on every one of the cameras we had placed. Does and fawns showed up in the usual expected areas, but where are all the mature deer? It isn’t unusual in previous years for us to see 3 – 5 different shooters during the course of the season transition through our place; this year offered a goose-egg. Maybe the incredible amount of rain we had in early spring and early winter affected their bedding and feeding patterns? It is difficult for me to pinpoint the exact reason for the lack of mature bucks, so I will need to be even more diligent with my Spypoint cameras this spring and summer, if I want a chance to harvest a trophy buck in 2016. I know two things that I swore by this year, my ThermaCell portable device (mosquitoes’ were terrible all the way up until November) and my waterproof knee high LaCrosse boots. Without either of those, the ability to even get to a stand and STAY on stand would have been extremely difficult, and most importantly, uncomfortable. Rifle season provide an opportunity to fill 4 deer tags amongst our group, I spent the entire afternoon Saturday afternoon butchering 2 deer that I harvested earlier that morning. The remainder of deer season was hit-or-miss just seeing deer. Tom made a conscientious decision late season, to change his tactics and hunting area. He ended up with his second bow deer right before the end of the season. Many people in Missouri were adversely affected by the 3 days of torrential rains in Missouri right after Christmas. Our farm was basically under water with all the ditches filled to capacity and the fields with 4-6” of standing water. Hopefully, 2016 brings a little more “deer like” weather for us to enjoy and prosper. Best Regards: Joe

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