Deer Management

Deer Management 

In August 2020, the Des Peres Board of Aldermen adopted legislation the allow trained archery hunters to hunt deer within city limits with a permit from the Des Peres Public Safety Department. An ordinance prohibiting the supplemental feeding of deer was also enacted in 2019 alongside a request to the Missouri Department of Conservation seeking permission to host a managed archery hunt in Phantom Forest and Bittersweet Woods. That approval has continued each year since 2019. 

All three measures can be viewed in their entirety below:  

  1. Ordinance Legalizing Archery Hunting of Deer
  2. Ordinance Prohibiting the Supplemental Feeding of Wildlife and Deer
  3. Resolution Seeking Permission to Host a Managed Archery Hunt

Sharpshooter Program

The 2023 Sharpshooter Program has concluded. Please see the following Program Summary Report from White Buffalo. 

Des Peres in July 2022 was granted approval by the Missouri Department of Conservation to host professional sharpshooting within city limits for the upcoming 2022-2023 hunting season. Sharpshooting is a concept in which professionally trained wildlife management specialist are contracted to thin deer herds using a combination of baiting techniques and suppressed firearms. Sharpshooting is widely considered to be the most effective tactic for reducing deer herds over a short period. For that reason, sharpshooter programs are amongst the most tightly regulated wildlife management programs available in Missouri, requiring extensive oversight and collaboration with State conservation officials. 

As part of this approval, Des Peres has retained White Buffalo to carry out professional sharpshooting activities with an anticipated hunting window of January 18th through February 1st based upon the following considerations: 

  • Each site is selected based upon safety concerns, discretionary considerations, and deer activity.  All homeowners are informed about the baiting process and all questions are thoroughly answered in reference to sharpshooting and removal of deer from the bait site. Dates and time of such baiting and sharpshooting activities are discussed and agreed to in advance. 
  • Deer of all ages and sexes are harvested; however, adult does are prioritized.  Some deer may be shot over bait from a tree stand with a rifle. All deer are euthanized using American Veterinary Medical Association accepted protocols, and no shot deer leave the authorized property (i.e., no deer are wounded). 
  • Landowners are indemnified and held-harmless from all deer management activities on their property.  Therefore no liability is incurred by any cooperating landowner or by their pre-existing insurance coverage as a result of the activities of White Buffalo.  All liability is the sole responsibility of White Buffalo. 
  • There is continuous open communication between landowners, municipal officials and White Buffalo to keep people well informed regarding field activities to avoid conflicts.  White Buffalo is responsible for contacting each landowner and any adjacent landowners (if requested) the morning of the sharpshooting activities.  The direction of the wind determines which sites can be shot on any given day, and the wind direction cannot always be forecast accurately a day in advance. 
  • All deer carcasses are transported by White Buffalo to a licensed processor and all meat is donated to charitable organizations. In addition, Des Peres is actively making arrangements to donate 20 carcasses to the St. Louis Zoo as part of its red wolf sanctuary program. 

As part of this sharpshooter program, please note that Phantom Forest, Bittersweet Woods and Sugar Creek Park will remain closed for the entirety of the two-week hunting period (January 18-February 1). Notification letters to that effect have been mailed to property owners sharing a boundary with those sites. A copy of our permit from the Missouri Department of Conservation was also included as part of that mailer which spells out the various hunting logistics and protocols. 

Deer Population Trends (2.14.22) 

As shown below, our latest population estimates (conducted by White Buffalo in late-January) show a significant decline (-19%) in deer herds located west of the highway representing a projected loss of 27 total deer compared to 2020 projections. The same pattern (-19%) holds true with deer density, a measurement that contemplates deer concentration within a square mile. Using that metric but extending our sample size to capture the entire community which includes roughly 4.3 square miles, our current density rate is roughly 25 deer per square mile. That number only slightly exceeds the targeted range of 15-20 as recommended by the MDC for suburban settings. 

Having shared and discussed our census findings with MDC staff, staff believes that the most logical explanation for the recent decline of deer herds can be attributed to the following: 

  • The introduction of deer mitigation efforts in Des Peres including the legalization of archery hunting on private property which eliminated 15 deer in 2021 plus another 9 in 2020. 
  • Recently permitted managed archery hunts located in the conservation areas known locally as Phantom Forest and Bittersweet Woods which yielded 7 total deer since 2020. 
  • Significant culling efforts embraced regionally including at Queeny Park which hosted its first archery hunt in 2020 following a change in St. Louis County ordinance. That hunt allows up to 30 individuals to participate with a maximum harvest of 90 deer. 
  • The potential for flawed survey results which may overstate our recent downturn in population trends. 

2023 Archery Season Hunting Requirements

The 2023-2024 bow hunting season opens on September 15 and concludes January 15 as determined by the Missouri Department of Conservation. The city will begin accepting applications for this hunting period starting September 1st. 

To obtain permission to hunt, property owners must satisfy a number of requirements including but not limited to completing a Notification of Intent to Hunt application from Public Safety, providing a certificate of completion of an approved archery hunter safety course, and notifying in writing all contiguous properties of the planned hunt. Additionally, the ordinance does not authorize hunts on tracts of land under one (1) acre unless adjacent property owners combine their parcels to form at least one (1) acre. 

All hunters are required to hunt from an elevated position at least 10 feet high that faces the interior of the property, and arrows must be shot at a downward angle to prevent any arrow from landing closer than 25 feet from a side or rear property line and 75 feet from a front yard property line. It is unlawful for a person to discharge an archery device within 30 yards of any dwelling or vehicle without express authority. Likewise, it is unlawful for any archery device to be discharged within 200 yards of a church, school, or playground unless the owner of such property has provided express written consent to such discharges of closer proximity at specified dates and time periods.

How to Apply for Archery Permits

Des Peres property owners seeking permission to host an archery hunt must complete the following steps: 
  1. Submit electronically your Intent to Hunt to initiate the process. All households participating the hunt must individually submit applications for each property. From there, a member of the Department of Public Safety will make contact with each applicant, inspect the hunting location(s) for compliance with the ordinance, ensure that all hunters possess the mandatory credentials, and collect all the necessary forms. 
  2. Distribute to all neighboring properties (sharing a common property line not separated by a street) the Contiguous Neighbor Notification & Deer Retrieval Permission Form. Those forms must then be submitted to the Department of Public Safety for review and approval. 
  3. Pending completion of the above requirements, your assigned contact with the Department of Public Safety will issue a permit to allow archery hunting on the premises for a prescribed period to which all authorized hunters must carry at all times. 
The Des Peres Department of Public Safety is responsible for maintaining all records, permits and files for the ordinance allowing archery hunting of deer. For specific questions about all-things deer management in Des Peres including guidance for pursuing an archery permit, please contact Lieutenant John Preuss at 314-835-6234 or by email at