John Winkelman

John Winkelman

July is an important month for deer hunters, especially those looking for a unique opportunity. The state Department of Conservation offers more than 100 managed hunts on properties where hunting is usually prohibited.

None are in Jefferson County, but for the second year in a row, some very interesting hunting spots in St. Louis County are included. Jefferson Barracks has a long-standing reputation as a place to see deer, and once it and three other parks were added last year, they also gained status as a haven for archery hunters.

There are still more than enough deer for visitors to view, but regular management through hunter harvest is important to maintain the habitat that has allowed the herd to expand beyond the area’s carrying capacity.

Some of the hunts managed by the conservation department are offered to provide hunting access. People who don’t have private property to hunt on can take advantage of public land hunting, with limitations on the number of participants.

But in the St. Louis County parks, the name of the game is thinning the herd. In addition to JB, archery hunters are invited to apply for the opportunity to hunt at Creve Coeur,  Greensfelder and Queeny parks. Thirty hunters will be selected to bow hunt at each location through all 30 days of November.

That’s the good news. Last year, fewer than one in 50 hunters who applied were selected to hunt at Jefferson Barracks. On the other hand, 27 of the 30 hunters took at least one deer, and the total harvest was 67. Regulations allow hunters to take up to three deer, but only one can have antlers, and they must check in an antlerless deer before they are eligible to shoot one with antlers.

The odds of being selected for one of the 30 spots was much better last year at Creve Coeur, Greensfelder and Queeny; the number of applicants for each location’s 30 spots were 357, 85 and 181 respectively. The success rate was not as high, but hunters did remove 80 deer from those three parks last year.

The Fabick Nature Preserve in the city of Fenton will host three archery hunting opportunities this year, with 20 spots available for four days each in October and November and eight days in December. The harvest limits are the same as at the county parks, although there was not a hunt there last year to check on hunter success or application data.

Powder Valley Nature Center in Kirkwood selects eight hunters each year for an archery hunt that will take place there this year on Nov. 6-8. Last year, 188 hunters applied for those spots and five of the hunters took a total of 10 deer under the same harvest limitations.

All of these hunts require participants to attend a pre-hunt orientation program. Anyone who does not attend the program is disqualified. Hunters are also required to hunt from an elevated stand.

Managed hunts are not just for archery hunters. Several are available only to hunters ages 15 or younger, and others allow disabled hunters to participate. Those hunters are also required to apply during July. There are also hunts for people using muzzleloaders or other historic firearms, and a few that allow shotguns or centerfire rifles.

Two hunts near Jefferson County that allow rifles or shotguns are planned this year at St. Joe and St. Francois state parks in St. Francois County. Eighty hunters will be picked for the opportunity Nov. 6-7 at St. Joe. Sixty will be chosen for the St. Francois State Park hunt on December 11-12. Hunters may only apply for one managed hunt each year.

Last year the hunt at St. Joe was open to 100 hunters. Forty-one of them took a total of 73 deer. The harvest regulation in the state parks allows up to three deer per person, but two antlerless deer must be harvested before an antlered deer. Removing antlerless deer has a much bigger impact on managing the size of the herd.

The application period is open through July 31. Other than a few of the hunts for participants with disabilities, all applications must be made online at mdc.mo.gov. The full list of available hunting opportunities and statistics from previous years is available online as well. The list and application details also can be found in the 2021 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information booklet, available where permits are sold.

John Winkelman is Marketing Director for Liguori Publications near Barnhart, Mo., and the Associate Editor for Outdoor Guide Magazine. If you have story ideas to share for the Leader outdoor news page, e-mail ogmjohnw@aol.com, and you can follow John on Twitter at @johnjwink99.