Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flood Affects Deer Hunters, Too

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flood Affects Deer Hunters, Too

Article excerpt

Like a lot of other folks, the area's deer hunters will feel the effects of the floods.

Surprisingly, hunting will be a lot better for some because of the high water. For others, hunting will be poorer than usual. Many hunters are simply going to have to find new places to hunt.

Archery deer-hunting seasons opened in both states Oct. 1. The firearms season in Missouri are Nov. 13-21 and, for muzzleloaders only, Dec. 4-12. In Illinois, the firearms seasons are Nov. 19-21 and Dec. 2-5 for shotguns, and Dec. 2-5 and Dec. 10-12 for muzzleloaders.

In Missouri, 3.1 million acres were inundated in what for many areas was the worst flood ever. Illinois saw 872,000 acres flooded. In both states, much of the land was under water for more than two months - long enough for all but the most hardy plants to be killed.

Not only the Missouri and Mississippi flood plains were affected. Most of the streams in the northern half of Missouri were, too; so were major segments of the Illinois River.

Flood plains are the most productive deer habitat in both states. As many as 25 percent of Missouri's 400,000 deer hunters may hunt in bottomlands.

Jeff Beringer, deer biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said that many areas in both the Missouri and Mississippi bottoms won't support deer now and won't until next summer or beyond.

"It's strange, the flood created a kind of browse line, with nothing green beneath the waterline," he said. "The ground is bare, like a desert, with no food or cover. Obviously, deer can't live there."

Beringer said deer whose range included some uplands have moved into the upland part of their range. Deer whose range was exclusively in the bottom, he said, had to move to different areas.

"Fortunately, we have a big crop of acorns this year, so deer will find plenty to eat in the upland forest," he said.

This phenomenon will work to the advantage of deer hunters whose hunting areas adjoin flooded areas. …

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