Corn, bean and milo fields attract deer and other hooved animals like moths to a flame. Feedlots do the same, especially during winter with extended periods of cold weather, heavy snowfall or crusty snow cover.

That’s when these creatures find natural sources of vegetation more difficult to acquire. Antelope, deer and elk are messy eaters, too. They soil or destroy three to four times the forage they consume.

The answer most ag-related people consider begins with hunting. This is also one of the most effective damage-control techniques known to reduce deer damage.

Oftentimes, this remains easier said than done. It requires foresight, planning, commitment and details on the part of everyone involved. And even then, it may not be enough.

What other recourse do farmers, ranchers and landowners have when dealing with such challenges?

This may entail seeking outside help. And in this case, that may mean contacting the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT).  

“We need to know if you’re experiencing challenges with wildlife,” says KDWPT Secretary Robin Jennison, who recently spoke to farmer/rancher members of Kansas Farm Bureau.

Kansas law provides landowners with rights to protect their property from damage by deer, but KDWPT needs to know about the incident.

There tends to be plenty of talk among farmers, ranchers, landowners, their neighbors and sometimes everyone but KDWPT staff, says Nemaha County farmer Jeff Grossenbacher.

“Farmers and ranchers are good about discussing challenges and problems among themselves, but they don’t always contact authorities that can help,” he said. “Tell KDWPT your concerns if you have challenges with deer, antelope or elk.”

With fall harvest swinging into high gear, this may be one of the easiest times for farmers to spot evidence of deer or antelope activity in their crops. Letting KDWPT know what is happening on cropland also helps them determine how many permits to allow hunters in the various hunting districts.

Sometimes, deer damage to private land occurs outside of the regular hunting season. When such incidents happen and the farmer or rancher is unable to keep the deer from causing substantial economic loss, this may justify a special control permit, Jennison says. Landowners, farmers and ranchers may secure such permits from KDWPT to address hotspots of deer damage.

Damage control permits can be issued on a site-by-site basis after an inspection of the damage by a wildlife biologist. Each permit is issued for a specific number and type of deer.

For more information on antelope, deer or elk damage control permits, contact your local district wildlife biologist or the KDWPT operations office at (620) 672-5911 or

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas.