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Old November 24, 2009, 12:57 AM   #1
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4 Point or Better Rule

I dont know about the antler limits around the country, but here its any buck or doe (except special draw). Every few years the Game and Fish will do a "4 point or better" on one side rule. The first year, hunting sucks but the second aint to bad. Then the third year there are nice bucks running everywhere and they take it off (the rule). Sounds good, right? It is good because everyone gets a chance at a nice deer, but there are so many hunters running around that every buck in the area gets shot regardless of size. The Ya-hoos from town all come out and shoot everything with horns. Sorry if you're a Ya-hoo from town. No offence, just trying to make a point.

For the next 2 or 3 years, hunting sucks unless you want a doe. Most of us in this area have nothing against shooting does and do alot of the time because of the little bucks. Most people that come out from town would rather shoot a forky-horn instead of a fat doe. We would rather let the little guys grow. The locals have seen the results in bucks from the 4 point rule and totally agree with it, but the Game and Fish aint convinced.

We've talked with them a little, but only during hunting season when we had other things to do and didn't want to talk all day. They cant see where it really works right and are looking for other solutions. Maybe it wont work everywhere, but it seems to me if most places would put this rule into effect it would raise the level of bucks considerably all over the country. How many 3 points, forkies and spikes got shot that you know of? They wont get any bigger now.

I've talked with guys from all over and most agree. (not all) We try to let the little ones grow, but not every one see's it this way and they cant stand shooting a doe. Pride I guess. Needless to say we have alot of does (like everywhere I'm sure). Makes me mad. We've toyed with the idea of starting a petition to keep a permanant 4 point rule here (this area) and possibly in a few years they could throw in a 1/2 price doe tag or two. Game and Fish do it in other areas but not here and we are over run with deer.

I guess I'm just wondering what you think about it and whether or not you have a rule like this and if it works where you are. I know that there is going to be a few shot and then the points counted (and left if its to small) but it seems to me a small price to pay to have better deer. I think we usually find 1 or 2 when we have this rule. But when there are nice bucks every year I dont think it would be a bad problem.

Anyway, I would be thankfull for any input on this matter.
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Old November 24, 2009, 01:10 AM   #2
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Missouri's 'Antler Point' Restriction

Beginning in 2004, the Missouri Department of Conservation began testing Antler Point Restrictions on hunters, as a deer management tool. In 2008 it was extended to 65 counties, comprising the upper 2/3 of the state. From MDC Online:

“The APR requires a buck to have at least 4 points on one side to be legal. The restriction applied to the archery season and all portions of the firearms season except the youth portion. The expectation was that restricting the bucks that could be taken would promote a larger doe harvest. An additional benefit of this restriction would be that more bucks survive longer and grow antlers large enough to be considered trophies by hunters.”

MDC's “Hunting tips for counties with antler-point restrictions”offers this sage advice- “Bring binoculars and give yourself plenty of time to count antler points before you take a shot. Wait for a buck that has at least four points on one side. Successful hunters wait for the best shot – when the deer turns broadside. Learn to recognize antlers from this view to minimize errors in the field.”


Now I am generally not a vocal critic of MDC and many of its recent changes have been good ones. The 'Telecheck' system eliminated the need to haul your deer across the county to a check station. Missouri deer hunters also enjoy one of the simplest 'legal firearms' descriptions on record.

Still- this Antler Point Restriction nonsense is for the birds.

First, APR stacks the odds against novice hunters- and as a father and husband who's been in on a number of 'first deer' I can tell you that these hunters need all the help they can get. Many of these are kids, out with Dad or Uncle Fred for their first deer hunt. Under the 'old rules' they'd see maybe 1-5 shootable deer per season; and they might get a safe, sure shot at only one of those. They are thrilled to get any deer at all and even a forkhorn buck is a big deal to them. APR deprives this vitally-important group of opportunities. New hunters are quite literally the future of hunting and the last thing we need is to discourage them.

Second, APR is a slap in the face to 'traditional hunters' who use iron-sighted .30-30's, military rifles and period firearms from 1830 forward. Folks, this is deer hunting at its finest and it is the essence of hunting in general. APR essentially requires that the traditional hunter adds a substantial set of binoculars to his kit; and spend more time 'glassing' than enjoying the nostalgia of the traditional hunt.

Third, APR turns a uniquely American test of hunting & shooting skills into an equipment race. We have done just fine with a 10 year old set of budget binoculars here and most of our 'deer guns' wear carefully-zeroed iron sights. The only 'scoped rifle in the outfit has a 4X on it, which has facilitated precise shots and instant kills at well over 200 yards. Now, by edict of the crowned heads at MDC, all of our optics are obsolete. I suppose we could run down to China-Mart and drop a grand on some new glass; but I am disinclined to have the state dictate how I spend my recreational dollar.

Fourth, APR does nothing to alleviate the hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage and personal injury caused by deer each year, in Missouri. MDC obviously knows this because the Kansas City and St. Louis areas got a 'hall pass' on APR. Now, this would probably never occur to the Commission- but us 'dayum hillbillys' don't liked to wreck our pickups anymore than them high-falutin' city slickers do! Someone in my neck of the woods learned this first hand. By the third day of the season, there was a spike buck lying dead along 135 Highway, just south of US-50. He was doubtless passed over by hunters but he died just the same and somebody got a repair bill- thanks to APR.

My final complaint with APR is that it promotes the notion that deer hunting is all about 'points and trophies' rather than harvesting the winter meat. Every young deer hunter I've mentored, has been taught exactly the opposite. We've killed a few decent bucks over the years, but shooting a big rack was never the driving force behind the hunt. And frankly- 'an obsession with racks' has never been a character trait of the better hunters I've known. I hate to see MDC foster this kind of thinking.

I have a grandson and two granddaughters; I looked forward to having the honor of taking them on their first deer hunt. I sincerely hope that the Missouri Department of Conservation mothballs this stupid 'antler point restriction' before that day comes.
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Old November 24, 2009, 01:20 AM   #3
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I'm a big fan antler restriction. I don't see the point in shooting a small buck for the meat...any more. I used to go with the "brown it's down" method. But now, a good fat doe does the trick for me. Here in AR, it's 3 on one side with special restrictions on some areas. It gives the young-uns at least another year to get wiser.

I wish they would introduce one back home in WV. Dad lives in PA. He took a real nice 9 point this year with the bow. And has seen at least 10 legal bucks this year in the 300 acres he has to hunt, all out of the same stand. I picked the wrong year to not go hunt.
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Old November 24, 2009, 01:32 AM   #4
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me too

I am largely opposed to "point counting" for all the reasons you list.

I live next to a 40, 000 WMA that has a Quality Deer Mgmt (QDM) program of 3 to a side. I bowhunt it, open 100+ days a year! There are about 20 days of gun hunting allowed. The gun hunts are insane, people everywhere, and they manage to just wipe out the 2 1/2 -3 1/2 yr old bucks. A few bucks survive to become old bucks and make things interesting, but few really old bucks trophy bucks are seen, and fewer killed. (2 last year)

Meanwhile, I'm passing spikes and forkies so they can be rifle killed next year.
Plus, poor, gnarly headed bucks survive to breed their bad genes for more gnarly headed bucks.

Finally, there's just something about somebody else telling me what deer constitutes a "trophy". It puts emphasis on the head, and not the hunt.

Its close, convenient, and I'll keep hunting it, but I'm not thrilled.
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Old November 24, 2009, 02:19 AM   #5
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I didn't mean for it to sound like I'm a trophy hunter, cause I am far from it. I've only shot 2 bucks in the last 6 years and they weren't any thing special. 1 was a 4x4 I think, and the one this year wasn't supposed to be mine. It ran in front of the car I was following. I didn't want to waste it since it wasn't in too bad of shape, so I finished it off and tagged it. Nice 5x6 but no trophy.

I made up my mind a couple years ago I would either shoot a wall hanger or a doe. I got screwed this year. At least he didn't rot. We got about 60% of the meat from him.

My daughters love hunting bucks but know they may have to settle on a doe for meat. They like horns, but love jerky. We got 2 bucks and 2 does this year.

After seeing the good results of "the rule" (around here) I just think it would give everyone alot more chances at a nice buck.

I realise not everyone thinks this way and was curious about other places....... Thanks for the comments guys.......
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Old November 24, 2009, 04:34 AM   #6
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Its been a while since I have hunted in Ca. But their rule was bucks only, fork horn (2 on one side not counting eyelet) or better. There were a few districts that required 3 point or better (again, one side). It always seemed that the 3pt areas had healthier bucks, but as to population, it seemd to be about the same.
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Old November 24, 2009, 05:31 AM   #7
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We have a 3 point rule on the WMA here in NE Fl. that we hunt. Problem I see with it, besides the fact that there is NO doe harvest allowed except during archery season, is that in this area of FL you will NEVER have a trophy. Quality of food, and the fact that we are in the coastal zone, means even a full 8 or 10 is not much.

It's does not bother me to bad though as we'd rather shoot the hogs for meat and do end up with at least one deer a season but I don't get the whole antler thing. If there is a deer population health issue involved with it that I don't understand then fine but if it's all about feeding the "trophy" menatality with all that "drop tine" stuff and so much focus on "inches" then I'd blow it off and just enjoy hunting.

And mind you I'm old and have taken more than my share so I should not complain to much if the next generation wants to hunt different than I do it's just that I don't see it.
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Old November 24, 2009, 07:34 AM   #8
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I'm not a hunter (yet?), but I don't understand.

Why wouldn't you shoot a doe? Do they really require that you only shoot at bucks? This strikes me as ridiculous. Watching them cavort in my yard, I'm quite certain there's plenty of tasty venison on a female deer.

What is the logic behind restricting hunting only to bucks?
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Old November 24, 2009, 09:52 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by reloader28
After seeing the good results of "the rule" (around here) I just think it would give everyone alot more chances at a nice buck...
Most everyone who hunts would love to shoot a 'nice buck'.

The problem is that not everyone will see nice bucks, some won't see any does; heck some folks will do well to see a deer at all during the season.

Some may only get to hunt one or two days during the season and during less than prime movement periods.

My contention is that whatever their motivation, (meat hunter, traditional hunter, etc) so long as they possess an any-deer tag they should be able to shoot the first, and perhaps only deer they'll see all season.

The meat hunter does not prevent the trophy hunter from taking a good buck.

The trophy hunter, by means of antler point restrictions, prevents many meat hunters from taking any deer at all.
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Old November 24, 2009, 10:00 AM   #10
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I know it would be impossible to police. I wouldn't mind an exception to the size limit for a hunter's first buck.

Keeping in mind that all areas are different, I can't see any reason to kill another 4 or 6 point around here when we have doe eating us out of house and home.
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Old November 24, 2009, 10:18 AM   #11
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"APR stacks the odds against novice hunters" - Amen to Sarge. I also agree strongly with your last point, emphasizing 'points and antlers' Dad taught me and I'm teaching my son every deer is a trophy you work hard for and it's ultimately about putting meat on the table.
I hunt in both NY and NJ and they both have instituted DQM (Deer Quality Management) in certain areas.
I guess the thinking is if you shoot a bigger rack the hunting experience is more enjoyable? and by doing this they'll encourage more hunters? I'm not sure how they decide what areas to enact this. I fortunately have the choice of what areas to hunt. As a 30 year hunter I much more enjoy taking out new hunters and showing them the ropes, and a little early success goes a long way to keeping them interested. My most exciting hunt was taking all day to sneak within shotgun range of a herd of bedded does and taking the biggest one when they stood up. My "buck of a lifetime" 4 years ago was just a dumb luck thing - putting in the hours.
At the check station a few years back young kid came in with the biggest buck we'd ever seen around here. As we left we said -that stinks for him -he just started hunting and shot the biggest buck of his life, now what's he got to look forward to?
I guess hunters hunt for different reasons as for me it's just about trying to be a part of nature. Have fun hunt safe all.
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Old November 24, 2009, 10:31 AM   #12
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I decided I am personally not going to shoot anything between 4 and 8.
Less than 4 points and it probably doesn't belong in the gene pool more than 8 and I might actually go to the expense of doing something with it.
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Old November 24, 2009, 10:32 AM   #13
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I have no problem supporting a 4 pt or better rule in Wyoming


They dont cut down on the doe tags. In this part of the state (NE) we have way too many deer. The highway is littered with dead deer. They are costing me a mint in hay. The state is trying to do something, we can get up to 4 doe fawn tags but it dosn't seem like people are buying them.

I believe the economy may have something to do with it. Less and less out of state hunters showing up. But they wont drive far and pay out non-resident fees for a doe.

What I would like to see, if you have a 4 pt or better rule, is for the state to give a doe/fawn tag with the buck license.

Now having said that, There are plenty of big bucks, I mean record class in this state.

I hunt elk in the Big Horns. If you have ever hunted there, you will notice (in the NW section of the Big Horns) you have several bald peaks. You also have several stands of tembers on these peaks and they are loaded with bucks. The thing is, we know that deer come down to feed at night to feed and back to the tember during the day.

I hunt on horse back and get above the tember. I discovered, for the most part the large bucks down come down, they go up to get the grass and browse above the tember. AND I MEAN HUGE BUCKS. Kind of hard to explain (because I'm a poopy writer) but if you take a drive on 14A west of Burgess Junction, you can see what I'm talking about.

Now its kind of ruff, I mean when you get up there and wait for the deer to get out of the timber, get one down and dressed, its gonna be dark. Those mountains are dangerous if you are running around in the dark. If you have a good horse, no problem, let them have their head and they will take you back to camp safely. If you hunt on foot, I'd recommend taking a spike camp and waiting to morning to pack out.

Forget 4- wheelers, if they have open trails for 4-wheelers, you wont find the big bucks in the the tember you can get on ATV. They didnt get to be big bucks by being stupid.

Of course, the above doesnt affect you 4 pt rule, I would support you on that.
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Old November 24, 2009, 10:32 AM   #14
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I'm not a fan of antler restrictions either, for many of the same reasons outlined by the above posters.

If someone wants to impose those rules on themselves, their own land, or their own club, fine. I don't see that forcing everyone else to be a "trophy hunter" is a good idea for many reasons.
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Old November 24, 2009, 10:40 AM   #15
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Netzapper....... I guess I didn't actually say it, but I do shoot does. In about
23 years of hunting, I think I've shot 5 bucks. I've killed deer every year though, so I've shot alot of does. Its not for lack of bucks, its just that I hunt the first few days for a BIG buck, and when I dont see one I shoot a doe.

I hunt for the "stalk" more than anything. It's wide open here so we do alot of spot and stalk. I love sneaking up on a deer, consider it a kill, then go find another and do it again. Usually shoot a doe at the end.

I not trying to get everyone to be a trophy hunter, I just dont see why everyone would rather shoot a little buck instead of letting him grow. Shoot a doe instead.

THANKS everybody, I enjoy all the reading.
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Old November 24, 2009, 11:04 AM   #16
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Off topic, but...

I hunt on horse back and get above the tember.
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Old November 24, 2009, 11:16 AM   #17
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I think I know where you're talking about. Haven't hunted there, but we go to the Bighorns alot. I'm in the northern Beartooth's and there are a few huge mulies in the timber like you were talking about (hard to catch), but not like the Bighorns.
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Old November 24, 2009, 11:19 AM   #18
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I am not looking for a trophy. I will be very very happy if I get two does this year.

I shot a 6 point buck last year in the neck. 50 yards hobbling behind a fallen tree and the only shot I had on it. Clean kill and untainted meat. Someone else had blown off one of its feet before it got to me during a drive. I let the first shooter have it. He seemed pretty into the rack and I could have cared less.
Of course, I thought I had a good sized doe down a buddy was tracking after I failed(long story there, and yes I had multiple tags).
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Old November 24, 2009, 12:15 PM   #19
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I've hunted here in Pa. for 33 years and have seen alot of change in our deer seasons.When I was 12 it was one deer a year by any means,you got a buck tag with your license and if you got a doe you had to tag it with your one and only buck tag.You would only kill a doe late in the year after "buck" season.Then in the late 80's they made doe tags available seperately and they included a tag for the doe.In the 90's then they made multiple "doe" tags available and you could kill more than one doe with tags and a buck.In 2002 we started APR and in my area it's 4 pts on one side or better.There are now way bigger bucks being killed EVERY YEAR since some real wall hangers.They allow juniors to kill small bucks and I think it helps a junior keep interested in hunting.I see small bucks almost every time I'm in the woods and letting them walk is enjoyable.I kill does every year for meat and when a whopper steps in front of me it will all be worth it.I have already killed the biggest buck of my life since APR a huge 10 pt with a droptine.It has been 3 years since I've killed a buck and I wouldn't go back to the old ways for nothing.I have a wall full of small bucks that if I had let walk I might have had the chance to kill a trophy buck a long time ago.If you want to eat deer meat kill a doe they are way better eating anyhow.
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Old November 24, 2009, 03:31 PM   #20
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After seeing the good results of "the rule"
Ok, another Wyo guy here. Just what good results did you see Reloader?
Lots of 4pt bucks? Or a ton of 3pt honest.

I have watched this used in the sth central part of the state w/ limited success. I've seen this used twice. Both times, about 2-3yrs after it was instituted, 3pt bucks all over the place and no extra 4pts. You artificially put a lot more pressure on the larger bucks w/ this approach.
There is another camp out there too. There are those who believe(hunters and biologists alike) who believe that a 3pt buck will stay 3pt throughout his life. By instituting said rule and adding the extra pressure on the 4pt deer, then you have many, many more 3pt bucks doing the breeding in November, thus,,dilution of the better genetics within the herd.
I personally have seen a lot more small bucks w/ this method. I don't pretend to know the science though. That is just something I have heard.
I personally will shoot does as well as cow elk to help the herd and fill the freezer.
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Old November 24, 2009, 04:41 PM   #21
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I think most hunters wouldnt have a problem with it if the deer population was high and you had a good chance of seeing a doe to shoot but the population may not be high everywhere so alot of hunters may not see a doe to shoot so they end up not tagging a deer at all and when your hunting for meat first rather than a trophy to begin with then antler point restrictions do hurt.
if you continually push the harvest of does the population can decline even in areas that does are abundant now and maybe has been for years it could easily change with an increase in local hunting pressure and when that happens you will likely be thinking about the downsides of the point restrictions more closely.
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Old November 24, 2009, 07:16 PM   #22
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They tried a 3 point or better in a few areas here in Utah for a number of years.
It hurt the quality more than it helped.
Years have passed now since they lifted the restrictions and you can still see many, many 24" and bigger 2 points.
The genes were allowed to stay when in a natural herd they probaly would have been bred out.
Idaho has a few units that are 4 point or better and they "harvest" almost as many 2 and 3 points, only they get left to rot.
I think a better solution is to limit buck tags and increase the doe harvest.
Habitat management and improvement would probably have more effect than antler restrictions.
When every ridge and every draw has a road or ATV trail it gives them no safe zone to escape to, temporary road closures during hunts work, have seen the results.
I am not an advocate for closing public grounds or making every hunt a draw, but both work when employed judiciously.
Sometimes I think the best thing for the health of the herds and qaulity of the animals is a complete closure for 1 to 3 years depending on conditions.
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Old November 24, 2009, 09:29 PM   #23
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I like the way they do it down in Georgia.

First, Georgia is the largest state in land area east of the Mississippi. It also has the largest deer herd east of the Big Muddy, and the second longest deer season (South Carolina has the longest).

In Georgia, they have what is called "Quality Deer Management". QDM applies only to certain counties. I believe the first county to implement QDM was Dooley County (Vienna). It took about 5 years for the harvest levels of bucks to come back up to the pre-QDM years.

Done properly, QDM requires an aggressive doe harvest. In order for older bucks to exist in greater numbers, the carrying load of the land changes. Habitat quality becomes important as well.

The thing I like best about QDM in Georgia, is that in the counties in which it is implemented, it weeds out the casual hunters and the rate (as opposed to raw numbers) of hunting accidents fall. However, I do not believe that an entire state, especially one the size of Wyoming, needs to be QDM. That's just laziness on the part of the Dept of Natural Resources.

The two largest deer I have taken east of the Mississippi were in Meriwether County, Georgia, a QDM county. One even had a small 8 point rack, but he was one big bodied monster. I estimate he was about 2.5 years old.
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Old November 24, 2009, 10:30 PM   #24
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I am slow to reply tonight, I screwed up the computer and the wife had to fix it. She was NOT impressed with me!

I took it for granted about gene pool I guess, but you do have to have the right genes in the breeding and not all places have those genes. In this area we do have a good gene pool. They just dont get the chance. I do agree with Kraigwy that if there was a 4 point rule that they should give a doe/fawn tag.

So as far as results here, on the third year there was a lot of 4 and 5 point and bigger. there is also some HUGE 2 and 3 points which may or may not get bigger. I've watched them over time, I would say they some wouldn't after 3 years. But the majority do get nice.

I also agree that they could give a break to kids under 16. Let them shoot what they want. I dont think it would really be any harder to police than anything else.

The area next to us is really out standing. Your odds of drawing a tag are as good as getting hit by lightning or winning the lottery. Hardly any hunters on it and only a few tags, but garanteed the best hunting around, bar-none. Huge and I mean HUGE elk, Whitetail and Mulies. You can't hunt bucks on the ranch anymore (cow elk only) but there is BLM and Forest around it. This area borders that one and as this is a general area.... we like the 4 point rule.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in again and I really enjoy reading all the posts. Thank you. do you determine if its an aggressive doe???HAHA

Last edited by reloader28; November 25, 2009 at 02:43 AM.
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Old November 25, 2009, 07:33 AM   #25
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Our group has a "10 point or better" rule.....we all trophy hunt and have garages full of smaller racks. Only way to get bigger bucks is to let them mature and get a few more years of growth. It is paying a 14 pointer earlier this season.
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