(And yes, we prefer the verb "kill" over the euphemism "harvest"; as Bob Priddy of Missourinet recently blogged, "A Deere harvester is a machine. A deer hunter is a killer.")
To give you an idea of how many deer the number 204,688 represents: If those dead deer were Cardinals fans, they would fill Busch stadium four times, with some still standing outside. Well, not "standing," because they'd be dead. This is an awkward analogy.
The counties with the biggest kill numbers (Howell, Texas and Benton) lay in Missouri's southern half, which is what state biologists predicted would happen. Down there, the land is thick with forest. Deer like the forest because they eat a lot of acorns.
However, the drought made acorns scarce this year. So that kept the deer on the move, and forced them to crowd around acorn-rich spots. Which, in turn, made them easier to hunt.
If you're not a hunter, you might find all this uninteresting. However, it's a big deal, economically. Quoth the Missouri Department of Conservation:
Deer hunting contributes approximately $1.1 billion annually to the state and local economies and supports more than 12,000 jobs in Missouri.
That's deer hunting, mind you; if you swerve to smash deer with your car, that doesn't count, and you'd not be helping the economy grow.