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Ha Ha Tonka State Park Will Open for Deer Hunters

Ha Ha Tonka, the state park near Camdenton, is known for its caves, bluffs, and even a castle. But this December, it will hold a different kind of attraction: deer hunting. KSMU’s Adam Hammons has more.

On December 11th and 12th, Ha Ha Tonka is holding a managed hunt allowing deer hunters to get a white-tail deer at the park. This will be the first time in its history. The goal is to downsize the deer population in the area to a healthy level.

Ken McCarty works with Missouri State Parks in the Department of Natural Resources.

“The deer numbers in the parks have become very very high, to the point that they are actually harmful to the resources within the park and to the surrounding community. And so for that reason we have opened up Ha Ha Tonka to a special managed hunt for this year.”

McCarty says 100 hunters were picked for the hunt from a random drawing of applicants. He says hunts like these are usually popular.

“Often times there will be a lot to apply for a first time hunt because of the perception that there is a high population so your chances of success are very high.”

The goal of the hunt is to get the deer population down to between 15 and 25 deer per square mile.

Joe Jerek is a spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He believes hunting is the best way to get the deer population down to that level.

“Really adult deer in Missouri have no widespread natural predators so hunting is the primary way to control the population. So hunters, deer hunters, and deer hunting are a vital importance to maintaining a healthy deer population in Missouri.”

Jerek says without hunting, the deer population would only naturally decline ten percent per year.

Since 1985 there have been managed hunts in 15 state parks in Missouri.

For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.