Did the Deer Disappear?
Rock Bridge Park Officials are canceling their deer hunt because of a low count. However, park officials say the low numbers can be misleading.
"Now we suspect this number is actually under-counted, that there are more numbers of deer than the helicopter count reflected, but since we don't have sure data to support a hunt, we decided not to hold one this year," explained park naturalist Roxie Campbell. Campbell adds there are a number of reasons for a possible shortage. She thinks last year's damaging snow and ice storms cut into the of deer population.
"It was very slick for the deer to walk on, and one theory we have is that the deer couldn't dig through the sleet to get food, so they may have traveled out to nearby fields," explained Campbell. Despite bad news at Rock Bridge, hunters in Columbia are not worried about the hunt being called off.
"The overall view, most hunters wouldn't mind because they don't participate in that hunt anyway," said Columbia hunter Joe Crites.
The hunt at Rock Bridge is limited to those who apply for a restrictive permit through the Missouri Department of Conservation. On average, only about 80 hunters get one.
Another theory park officials have for the low count is the possibility that deer are getting wise to the helicopter used to count them. They no longer scatter into open areas when the choppers swoop low. Either way, archery hunting season for deer will begin Sept. 15.