Harvest information often forms the basis for deer and turkey management decisions. Thus, for many state agencies, collection of representative harvest data is an essential part of the management program. We compared reporting rates and biological information obtained from mandatory in-person and telephone checking (telecheck) for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) in Missouri, USA. We subsequently compared this information to that obtained from commercial meat processors to determine if these data could substitute for in-person check stations for collecting age of harvested deer. To conduct our study we randomly selected a telecheck group and a control group from firearms deer and spring turkey hunters in 2003 and 2004, respectively. The telecheck group called a toll-free number to report deer or turkey harvests; the control group reported at established check stations. We compared the sex, age, and number of reported animals harvested by each group. We also compared the reported harvest for the control groups and statewide permittees. For deer, we found no difference in the total harvest reported by telecheck and control group participants. However, the control group reported harvesting more deer than those in the statewide group (0.78 and 0.59 deer per person, respectively). Concomitantly, we found that a lower proportion of commercially processed deer were 0.5 years of age (0.16 and 0.22 for males and females, respectively) than for those self-processed (0.22 and 0.32 for males and females, respectively). There was no difference between self- and commercially processed male or female deer in the distribution of 1.5- and ≥2.5-year-olds. The reported turkey harvest was higher for telecheck and statewide groups than for the control (0 turkeys, 0.64, 0.63, and 0.67; 1 turkey, 0.28, 0.26, and 0.27; 2 turkeys, 0.08, 0.11, and 0.06 for the telecheck, statewide, and control groups, respectively). Recorded spur length did not differ for telecheck and control groups but was longer for the statewide than for the control group (<2.5 cm: 0.54 and 0.51; 2.5–3.8 cm: 0.44 and 0.44; >3.8 cm: 0.01 and 0.03 for control and statewide groups, respectively). Although harvest reporting between telecheck and control groups differed, the differences were small and the significance may have been an effect of large sample sizes. We suggest that telecheck may serve as a suitable replacement for in-person checking of deer and turkey in Missouri. Lastly, age data from deer 1.5 years of age and older collected at meat processors represented distribution data obtained from in-person check stations.
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Vol. 34 • No. 5