High Deer Harvest Numbers Could Affect Taxidermists

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BOONE COUNTY - More than 210,000 Missouri deer died from disease and high harvest number give taxidermists a large workload this year. With the numbers being so high the questions become will there be any restrictions on hunting to help increase the deer population, and how will it affect taxidermists?

Officials for the conservation department currently say the data has to be analyzed. "Right now we have the harvest numbers in and hemorrhagic disease numbers," state deer ecologist Emily Flinn said. "Now we have to collect farmer surveys and other data to really rate the extent of the damage."

The number of dead deer is higher because this summer's drought sparked the worst outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in recorded state history. Combine those numbers with the largest deer harvest numbers in the last three gun seasons and totals start getting higher than normal. Flinn said if the department finds the deer population is low in some areas, restrictions could be a few seasons away.

With so many deer dying this year one career taxidermist feels next year could be a let down. "Well I expect to have lower numbers next year," local taxidermist Jim Cook said. "That may hurt my business as almost half of business comes from deer." Next year the numerous mounts that Cook is used to seeing in his shop could be down.

However some who do taxidermy for hobby feel a big hit in local deer populations could help the overall quality of deer in the area. "If a lot of deer die off, then the land can support more deer," taxidermist Adam Holterman said. "I think the deer will get healthier, have better coats and grow larger."

As the data is crunched, the only indicator of what next year's conditions will be like is time.