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Old March 9, 2009, 01:38 PM   #1
pilothunter
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Antler Restrictions

It seems that more counties and indeed, more entire states are going to some type of antler point minimum for bucks, harvested within their borders. I'm curious as to how you all feel about the state or county, in these areas, telling it's hunters that bucks harvested must meet a minimum, citing increased pressure from their hunters in wanting more quality bucks as the reason for those restrictions.

I'd like to know what you think about the hunter who is satisfied with taking most any buck as a trophy and for it's venison now having to refrain from shooting a buck with less than 3 or 4 points on at least on side(as most of these regs state). There are certainly points to be made from either side of this debate(?) and as someone who has not hunted a state or area (except on a paid private land hunt) I'd like to hear from those who must deal with these type restrictions in their state or county.

For the record, I've not shot a buck that wouldn't meet any of the requirements I've read of in many years, choosing instead to shoot a larger buck, or none at all. But, on the other hand, that's been my personal choice and not one I'd ever attempt to force on others. Personally, I believe a hunter who enjoys his hunting along with harvesting a deer without a substantial rack, for whatever his personal reasons, should have the right to do so. Again, that's simply my opinion and I'd enjoy hearing yours, no matter what it might be.
Thanks in advance.
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Old March 9, 2009, 01:52 PM   #2
fisherman66
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I'm all for letting those with potential grow and reproduce. I do have a problem with land owners having the terms dictated. We have all seen a big, old, bow backed, haggard faced buck with a small basket 6 point top. That old boy belongs in the crock pot.
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Old March 9, 2009, 02:09 PM   #3
Brian Pfleuger
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In our area there are plenty of doe to shoot if you want meat and nothing more. Antler restrictions increase the odds of everyone in the woods to get a nice buck as well as allowing the babies to grow up a little. The results of pilot programs in NY have been encouraging and the program is being expanded.
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Old March 9, 2009, 02:15 PM   #4
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I not only do not condone it but think it is detrimental to the overall herd...
I feel a minuscule percentage of hunters can judge age on a down deer accurately and fewer can judge a walking deer. I know I have zero knowledge/interest in this skill. So I could let cow spike 6 year old walk and shoot a 2 year old sporting a full hat rack? That 2 year old is the genetic bomber we want IN the herd! what I seek is meat... I want a 2 year old and antler enuff to be legal (no nubbins allowed). I don't want a big bodied 5 year old either of any size antler rack.
the herds are not suffering and big racks abound in all areas you just gotta know how, when and where to look...
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Old March 9, 2009, 03:12 PM   #5
fisherman66
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In our area there are plenty of doe to shoot if you want meat and nothing more.
That's what really chaps me! We have 3 "doe days" in the main area I hunt. Outside those 3 days one must have a special LAMPS permit to take does. How friggin backwoods is that?
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Old March 9, 2009, 03:23 PM   #6
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Herein lies the crux of the situation... I think we all agree we need sensible game laws. But the political wheel is not the place for this. CWD is likely related to low bag limits resulting in high populations... This is based on the fact that the highest incidents of CWD are in the places with the lowest bag limits and shortest seasons. Florida has a nearly if not completely nonexistent CWD infected population in the free range wild deer. Yet we have nearly 120 hunting days if you count all special seasons and 90 days of general gun. Liberal bag limit of 2 per day and liberal antler requirement of one antler of 4 inch or better. We do have, IMHO, a tight doe limit and season which bugs me as does would be fine with me 'cept during the rut when they smell worse than a mad boar hog...
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Old March 9, 2009, 04:19 PM   #7
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Maybe it depends on the area we`re in. In this area, I could fill up two 17 cu ft. freezers and never raise a weapon on anything with horns. Doing that, I would be doing a good deed for the herd. Here, the doe to buck ratio is way out of whack. Buddy of mine process`s deer and it makes me sick to see some of the bucks brought in for processing. Some bucks smaller body wise than the does they`re laid next to. Pressure like that and the poaching that goes on doesn`t take long to put a hurtin on present and future dominant gene pool. Then the overall quality(body and antler) of whole herd suffers. Those are a few reason`s I agree with antler restriction`s
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Old March 9, 2009, 04:42 PM   #8
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Shortwave, IMHO only, I feel leases can have rules on their lands. But I buy a whitetail deer license... not a 6 point with 12 inch spread whitetail license. Poachers or antler violators do not take whole deer to process. Yes it may vary regionally, I admit this fully... we got plenty for the poachers and meat hunters alike...
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Old March 9, 2009, 04:43 PM   #9
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Ours is four points or better. I don't really have a problem with that but I do wish they'd make older spike bucks legal. We can take three bucks and three does per year with a one of each per day bag limit. If you bow hunt you can take two additional does. I usually kill two or three deer per year. However we don't use deer tags. It's easy for the harvesters to kill as many as they want.
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Old March 9, 2009, 04:59 PM   #10
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Excellent responses so far, please do continue and a few more comments to maybe consider here:

What about the younger hunters starting out? Will they become bored waiting for a "big enough" deer; one that a fellow with 25 yrs hunting experience and lots of bucks in the bag, thinks is good enough?

What happens to the smaller bucks with inferior antlers that continue to age and breed, but cannot be shot legally?

And to follow up on the "new hunter" thinking, what we we all do when they tire of letting small bucks pass and no longer want to hunt? We are losing a lot of hunters today. In many areas license sales are down. What will we do to keep the future trophy hunters happy?

Did we all have to endure these type restrictions when we started out hunting?

In my state it costs a hunter $125+(in state) to hunt all deer seasons. These licenses give the holder the ability to harvest over 300 deer legally (in some areas), including 3 bucks. What would happen to license sales if they wanted to also restrict the harvest to larger bucks? What will happen to the overpopulation we have, with possibly having less hunters too?
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Old March 9, 2009, 05:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
What happens to the smaller bucks with inferior antlers that continue to age and breed, but cannot be shot legally?
DING DING DING!!!!
They breed to the does and make JUNK deer!
It should be a wholly personal choice IMHO!!!!
Which is also my answer to the rest...
Hunters tend to increase their minimums rather than decrease them as they age unless they sway from sport hunter to freezer filling "harvester"...
Brent
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Old March 9, 2009, 05:13 PM   #12
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Hogdogs, your absolutely right about the poachers and antler violaters not taking deer for processing. They`re not! My point is that with no antler restrictions,young,smaller body/ racked bucks that are the herds future strong genes are legally killed. That combined with the poached adult, strong gened buck of the same herd, doesn`t give that herd much of a chance for the future. Again, I feel areas vary. In this area alot of people have the attitude 'if it moves,shoot it'. IMHO,When I`m meat hunting, I`d rather have a nice 2-3yr.old doe than than a 1yr.old. Give that 1yr. old a chance to 'put some meat on her bones' so to speak. We don`t have to many 'leases' here. They seem to be getting a bit more popular though. Here in Ohio I`ve seen what different restrictions(many I didn`t like or agree with) has done with our deer/turkey population . When I was a kid, deer were not plentiful and there were no turkey. Today, thats far from the case for both. Without certain laws and conservation that wouldn`t have happened. I`m sure in your states, you as well have conservationist that study whats best for your wildlife. Laws aren`t put into effect to punish the hunter(we usually pay their salary) but rather put into effect for the betterment of the wildlife. If your`s is contemplating antler restrictions I`m sure there`s a valid reason for it. Again, I didn`t/don`t always agree with our restrictions either but today I`ll admit they(ODNR) were right. Boy do I hate that!

Last edited by shortwave; March 9, 2009 at 05:36 PM.
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Old March 9, 2009, 07:32 PM   #13
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The Texas system has evolved as a result of wildlife biologists actually going out and doing census counts and observations of the makeup of the deer herd. For all that I think it's overly complex, it's at least based on field observations and not politics.

Generally, they're trying to get people to do what I did on my place outside Austin, some forty years ago. (Dang! It WAS that long ago!)
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Old March 9, 2009, 07:57 PM   #14
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I'm all for antler restrictions. Here in AR, it's 3 on one side. I enjoy going to the woods and seeing all kinds of bucks that I can't shoot. It tells me that they will be there next year.

Antler restriction not only promote a healthy herd, but does work for increasing the number of larger more mature deer. It's kinda like the unwritten rule of shoot the old mature does instead of the yearling ones. If more the younger/dumber deer killed year after year, the herd won't populate and grow productivly. If you have know idea what you are potentially shooting while it is a spike or a 4 point, how is that helping the situation?

My dad lives in PA. They have a 4 on one side rule. The first year we hunted up there, i'd never seen so many bucks out of one stand. I think that first morning I saw atleast 8 bucks that I couldn't shoot. i only saw 3 that were legal the whole week. The problem lies that the land he hunts is right on the border to WV. So all the bucks that we let walk, cross the line and get banged. So it's hard to manage a piece of land like that. But PA's overall size of harvests has gone up.

Also, too many does makes it easier for sub-standard bucks to be able to breed. Need to whack the does for a healthy herd.
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Old March 9, 2009, 08:12 PM   #15
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Hear in Ga. we have restrictions in just a few county's. I Have no problem with the at least 4 points on one side rustication but in some county's is at least a 15 inch spread and I've never seen a deer with a ruler stuck in it's antlers so how do you tell the difference between 14 1/2 and 15 inches at 150 yards.
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Old March 9, 2009, 10:14 PM   #16
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Since I haven't seen any posts from anyone that has hunted extensively in PA, here is my 2 cents:

I've hunted in PA for over 50 years, mostly north central back in the days when it was not uncommon to see 100 deer in a day....probably all does...and many more years in SW PA, also very near the panhndle of WVA. It seems to me that any deer , buck or doe should be a trophy, respecting the fact that we have harvested the animal for our use. Whether it is a 10 point,, 180+ B&C or a doe, no matter. Ok, that's my viewpoint. In PA, the antler restrictions were put in place for the 2001 season. I personally have not shot a buck since that has happened...the doe season was increased from the normal 3 days after the 2 week buck season to run concurrently with buck season, and no we can't hunt on Sundays, all to increase the buck to doe ratio. The license allocation for does, yes we have to buy a separate license, was increased dramatically to achieve the goal. The last 3 years have demonstrated this....the overall kill is down significantly. It is a thrill to see many bucks during a day, but when you see 6 points with an 18" spread and tines that are up to 10 inches long...yes no brow points...That guy will only reproduce more big 6 points!!!! Oh, I didn't mention, the reg is a minimum of 4 points on at least one side. In the north central it is 3 to a side. I spend quite a few days in the field and have not come across too many hunters that appreciate the regs. I think it was an effort by the state to increase license sales from the non residents, i.e., come to PA and see what great racks you can shoot. I now live in KY and still go back to PA to hunt and will continue as long as I am able...but the regulations in IMHO are BS!!!!!
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Old March 9, 2009, 11:16 PM   #17
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The Texas system has evolved as a result of wildlife biologists actually going out and doing census counts and observations of the makeup of the deer herd. For all that I think it's overly complex, it's at least based on field observations and not politics.
Art, I'm not understanding how many E. Texas county have 3 doe days a year (we see almost 10 does for every buck), but I can go west to say Throckmorton Co. and not have that time limit. Sam Houston WMA has only a few draw tags for doe and antler limits on buck, but other areas have no limits. I swear them deer ears get longer every year. Can you point me in the direction of those wildlife survey the biologists put together. The whole thing smells like boosterclub funk.
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Old March 10, 2009, 03:54 AM   #18
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First off, I am NOT a biologist. It's been a while since I've read up on deer management (about 7 years) and put that knowledge into practice.

As far as a state instituting a rack minimum for bucks, I think it would be a waste of time. Sure, we can all inject our opinions here about allowing younger animals to grow and taking only mature deer. However, you must admit that if quality deer management for rack size is the goal, there are some younger bucks you must eliminate in their youth. I would argue that in most cases, this will be the rule more than the exception and you would also need to protect the larger racked bucks as well in order to allow the genetics to spread. This could take a couple seasons to get a good foundation of animals with those quality rack genetics.

In the meantime, as was mentioned a little above, you'd need hunter education on deer age determination to make those calls on the cull and eliminate those saggy-bellied or gray-faced deer with small racks to prevent them from breeding. Most hunters do not have this knowledge/or ability as was stated.

And we haven't even begun to discuss doe culling to put your ratio in check.

All of this is a perfect world scenario that with good food supplementing could turn an average herd into an outstanding one.

The state will implement neither of these options because state-wide they are untenable. Instead they will institute this rack minimum that will ensure the larger bucks with the genetics you need to keep in the heard are removed and you will find more and more bucks with the inferior genetics running around. This will be supported by many who think "hey, that 6 pointer I saw last year must be an 8 this year" and "every deer will become a monster if given time". Little do they realize that that the small basket- racked 6 they saw reached his genetic limit and not every deer is destined for an 8-10-12 point (or 130+ inch class) rack.

Just my .02. Maybe herd management science has changed and there is some new magic formula out there I am unaware of. But at least, this still passes the basic common sense test.
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Old March 10, 2009, 11:17 AM   #19
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fisherman66, I'm not as "in" with TP&WD as I once was. Most of the guys I knew have retired or died. Used to be, I could holler at Andy Sansom and find out anything I wanted to know. And, some of the biologists.

From time to time I'll drop in and visit with whoever's in the local office, doing a little brain-picking and gabbing. If I'm walking in cold, I'll browse the brochures and try to lead into one of them airing some gripe. I'll make sympathetic noises and the next thing ya know, they're happy to open up some and be more voluntarily helpful. Asking about poaching problems and shaking your head over the responses works well.
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Old March 10, 2009, 11:22 AM   #20
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I'll drop by the Garland office and play chatty Cathy sometime. Maybe I should put a "Press" card in my camo ballcap and do a little investigative journalism on who determines the County regs.
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Old March 10, 2009, 11:24 AM   #21
Brian Pfleuger
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What happens to the smaller bucks with inferior antlers that continue to age and breed, but cannot be shot legally?
I've never heard of antler restrictions that would not allow "junk deer" to be taken. Has anyone ever seen an adult whitetail buck that can't grow 3 points on one side? I haven't. Sure, when they get old I've seen deer that won't grow anything more than spikes but "age" is not genetic. Most of those deer grew antlers that were just fine when they were young. Besides that, any deer in our area that lives to be 2 1/2 is pretty lucky, 3 1/2 is rare, 4 1/2 is a bona fide miracle.
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Old March 10, 2009, 11:34 AM   #22
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the problem is that a simple 3 on one side is a left field thing. A tall 6 or a wide 6 is a real good deer as I see em not a junker. But there are many deer that at 3 years old are a cow spike or at best a 3 or 4 point total count (eastern style) These bucks have had the requisite "equipment" to breed for 1.5 seasons at least. They breed to 1-20 deer during a rut depending on doe/buck ratio... the does possibly holding sorry genes are producing JUNK DEER...
With no antler limit a guy like me shoots him thinkin' I am getting a young guy and in return I scrub the gene pool for the sport shooter.
Then you also figure in that a doe holding good genes gets bred to a minimal buck and is removed from the trophy breeding stock this year.
All in all I think if left fully to the hunters and lease holders the whole thing equals out.
Get in a canoe, sit on the edge... don't feel good does it? So you the operator, scoot over... nature is far better at it than you...
To prevent thread veer I am starting another topic of ALBINO DEER...
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Old March 10, 2009, 11:40 AM   #23
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Brent

The problem with "natural selection" in NY state is that ALL the bucks get selected. There are far too many hunters whose criteria is 4-legged and brown. I have been hunting deer for 17 years and I have seen 2 (yes, two) well aged, racked bucks. One was an 8 and the other a 10. Besides that, I see a few 4 or scraggly six pointers here and there. The VAST majority of "bucks" I see are buttons or teeny, pathetic spikes. I know things are different in areas that are infested with deer (like parts of Florida) but we need some sort of control in NY.
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Old March 10, 2009, 11:54 AM   #24
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Peet, I agree ya'll do need some control... But I would have to really knuckle down and research the huntable/non huntable land to populace ratio. I bet if I was to do this I would find several issues in play. I think in all fairness the issue is not an antler only restriction... it should read like this... No deer under 3 years old with 4 or more points, Deer over 3 must have more than 4 or 6 or more... See where I am going? Young deer tend to have less but show "promise" of having a nice rack older. Old bucks tend to have more unless they are genetically or dieteticly (I know I spelled that wrong) challenged. The antler restriction also removes the best breeder bucks too soon. Old deer with big racks are elusive and rarely found by simple guys like me. And I feel it revolves around the deer's age. I bet a dollar to a doughnut ya'lls decent bucks surpass ours in body size and rack quality. I also bet the same that most deer are shot within a mile or so of the hunter's truck. I have seen some nasty 12-14 point 270+ pounders from "upstate NY" but were a day hike into the woods before the guys were even on the tracks.
I think it is hard to argue that most hunters whether a meat or sport hunter are typically lazy, time restrained or both.
I am a brown is down meat only hunter. I don't want an antler restriction until I get a good antler recipe... My dogs like antlers less than bloody bones BTW!
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Old March 10, 2009, 12:08 PM   #25
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No deer under 3 years old with 4 or more points, Deer over 3 must have more than 4 or 6 or more... See where I am going?
I sure wouldn't mind seeing something like that but it will NEVER happen. People would actually have to know what they were doing. Most guys can't tell a 4 year old from a bambi whose spots just fell off. The vast majority of guys I know directly link antler size with age, big = old. Besides that, you would have to actually wait and look and be patient. 99% of hunters around here employ the following strategy:

Deer! (approximately 5 nano-seconds passes) BOOM!... BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM!
Calls buddy on the radio "Hey, I shot one."
Buddy- "Buck or doe?"
Shooter-"Uh... hell, it was a deer."
Buddy - "Big one?"
Shooter-"Hell yeah, real nice one, come help me track it."....

Half hour later, because "shooter" didn't even know the correct direction it ran or where it was standing when he shot, they finally find it, there's lies bambi, spots probably fell off 3 weeks ago, weighs about 35 pounds, little buttons so small they don't even stick above the fur.

"Yep, that's a nice one alright" say the buddy as he picks up the "deer" and walks back to camp with it over his shoulder. The irony being that "buddy" did the same thing just yesterday.
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