The large population of deer have caused several car accidents, roamed through yards, trampling and eating crops, which has prompted Oxford locals to take matters into their own hands.
“Homeowners and landowners put their name on a list, and the selected hunters contact each homeowner or landowner to request permission to hunt on their property,” said Lann Wilf, Mississippi’s North Region biologist.
“That’s really the only viable method in Oxford or any city scenario that you can (use to) control a deer herd.”
Wilf said all of Lafayette County and part of North Mississippi is “woefully overpopulated with deer,” and giving hunters the permission to harvest deer on homeowners’ land is “absolutely the right method to enforce.”
Wilf said relocation is only exacerbating a problem on a landscape level outside the city.
Oxford resident R.W. Moffett, 62, who has been hunting since he was nine years old, agrees with state officials’ plan to reduce the population.
“I’ve known people to get hurt from automobile accidents from hitting deer in the city of Oxford,” Moffett said. “If the deer are not thinned out, they will die of disease, old age or some other process.”
Hunters’ Hollow, a local gun shop located at 2602 West Oxford Loop, contains a variety of standard weaponry used to hunt game animals and, of course, deer. Hunters’ Hollow salesman David Cambron said that any type of archery equipment or primitive weapons, such as compound bows and recurve bows, can be used to harvest the deer.
Wilf said that certified bow hunters have to prove proficiency and pass a written and physical exam.
“From what I understand, you have to be selected to get a permit through the city and meet certain qualifications,” Cambron said. “I understand there is an overpopulation of deer, and I understand their idea behind giving these permits to homeowners, but it makes you wonder of the effectiveness.”
Students who hunt have taken notice of Oxford’s plan to allow certified bow hunters to partake in the harvesting of deer.
“I don’t think we have another choice,” senior history and English major Cody Logan said. “With the way the university and the city (are) expanding, it’s better to cut down their population, rather than the deer getting overpopulated, sick and dying out.”
Logan said that while people may be at fault for expanding on the deer, it’s a lot more humane to put them down in a matter of seconds than a matter of months.
Zach Harrington, a senior on the pre-med track, said it could be a hazard to open residential property for hunters to harvest deer.
“If you’re hunting within legal limits and not poaching, then I believe it’s legal,” Harrington said. “The deer are eating people’s crops and eating people’s flowers; it’s a whole different story if someone is going out there with a gun, sitting on their back porch, poaching deer.”
With concerns about public safety, Wilf said a person would have to be “maliciously trying” to injure someone.
“We do have some accidents with firearms, but most of our accidents are not firearm- or weapon-related,” Wilf said. “Ninety to 95 percent of our accidents are related to tree stand incidents.”
“I would say a person has a better chance of getting hurt playing golf or shooting pool than bow hunting.”
As Oxford officials continue to allow certified hunters to harvest deer on the property of homeowners, Cambron said it’s a “tricky situation” for people who endorse hunting.
“For the non-hunting public, it could present an opportunity for the public to see the positive side of hunting,” he said. “But if you have animals that are wounded and not ethically taken, it could shed some negative light on hunting.”