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Some Numbers Behind Whitetail Antler Restrictions

May 31, 2012
Some Numbers Behind Whitetail Antler Restrictions - 10

Quality deer management is a practice that has grown considerably amongst the deer hunting community over the last decade. As more landowners and hunters improve habitat, maintain a herd within the carrying capacity of the land and pass up yearlings, the number of mature buck sightings increases.

Michigan is the latest state to propose an expansion of antler restrictions in an effort to decrease the percentage of yearling bucks taken and provide a more balanced age structure to the herd. The proposal would require bucks to have at least three points on one side following the same guidelines that are currently in place in Leelanau County.

Based on Michigan Natural Resources Commission guidelines, support among 66 percent of hunters in the proposed area would be needed to implement the change. The Northwest Michigan Quality Deer Management Association proposed the expansion of the antler restrictions and is hosting the meeting on Thursday, May 31st. If a majority of hunters support the restrictions, they would be considered for implementation in 2013.

With antler restrictions in place since 2003, Leelanau County has seen its 1.5-year-old buck harvest rate drop to 32 percent compared to 61 percent in surrounding areas without antler restrictions.

Northwest Michigan Quality Deer Management Association President Ryan Ratajczak told Michigan Live: “While the hunter success rate has remained constant, the age and antler development of harvested bucks has increased dramatically.”

This not only creates a more balanced age structure within the deer herd, but also balances the buck-to-doe ratio. A lower buck to do ratio means more competition amongst bucks during the breeding season and, ideally, increased buck sightings by hunters.

It’s not just Michigan hunters that are looking to introduce antler restrictions in additional hunting units. In 2005, New York introduced a pilot antler restriction program in two management units. The program was expanded into an additional two units in 2006 and is continuing to expand.

The results of the antler restrictions in New York have been mixed. A substantially reduced number of 1.5-year-old bucks have been killed while an increase in the buck harvest of 2.5-year-old and older bucks has been realized. There also hasn’t been any noticeable decrease in hunter participation because of the antler restrictions either. Additionally, junior hunters (17 and younger) are exempt from the three points on one side rule.

Antler restrictions are becoming a more popular management tool for state wildlife agencies as they look for a more balanced age structure for their deer herds. Hunters, on the other hand, continue to look for ways to increase their chances at mature whitetails and antler restrictions are one way to get there. Although there are many factors at play, there’s no arguing that antler restrictions help younger deer survive and put bigger bucks on the ground.

What’s your take?

Comments (10)

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from 6phunter wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Yyears ago in most states when modern deer hunted started ,only bucks wre allowed to be taken,as the herd improved doe could be taken last few days of the season.Now many states allow multible doe tags.So now antler restrictions are becoming more common,and most hunters are willing to pass on young bucks.ISHI, I don't think there is ever a valid reason to believe that a young spike should be culled as there is no way of knowing what his potential may become.Button bucks can be reconized generally and not confused with young doe as they most often travel alone in early season, these are often the ones you hear bleating like a lost child traveling to find a new area away from his birth range.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from spike horn wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

We as sportsmen need to recongnize it is not all about antlers, they are simply a by-product of a healthy deer herd. We should be very concerned with killing all of our male deer before they are young adults. Yes in NYS most male deer are killed as yearlings, these guys are young boys at best they are not young adults. There is something wrong with the mentality that we need to have the right to kill all the males before they become adults. It is not healthy for the deer herd and it is not a thing good conservation minded people should be doing. This is what protecting Yearling Bucks with AR's is all about.

I might also add that the author has one thing incorrect in their article." The results of AR's in NY have been mixed". This simply is untrue. AR's are the most supported of most all deer hunting management stratagies according the all the NYSDEC Scienfific hunter surveys and non-scientific hunter surveys in NYS. Results have been 100% positive and hunters have become more satisfied after implementation than before.Yearling buck harvest rates dropped from 57% to 15% and 2.5 yr old harvest rates went from 29% to 36% while 3.5 yr old have gone from 14% to over 36%. This is the proof that AR's work very well in NYS.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ishi wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Have always wondered why in some cases, small bucks are culled to remove their gene from the pool while in the case of antler restrictions, it appears to have the opposite effect?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 6phunter wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

People hunt for different reasons,some hunt for the meat ,others just to spend time with friends and take a break from homelife.I doubt if anyone would want to hunt woods that didn't offer a chance to see a mature buck now and then.I'm retired and been a head hunter the last 25 years of 48 seasons hunting deer.Including bow ,black powder,and rifle seasons I'LL spend up to 70 days in the field each year.I pass up lots of shots on bucks others would be proud to harvest. I'LL average 1 good buck every 4 or 5 years.TROPHY HUNTING has it's detractors,but I doubt if it has as much impact on the herd with or without antler restrictions..Antler restrictions allow bucks to grow to some potential so hunters and non-hunters alike can enjoy thier beauty.As a hunter seasons so does the experience of the hunt become more important than the kill.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from HawkEye wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

JM- I live in Ky as well. The 15 inch antler restriction in pretty easy to tell. They put in the hunting books each year to use the ears to judge antler width. It isn't an exact science but it's close. I think some common sense from hunters and law enforcement is needed for this system to work. If someone shoots a deer with a 14 3/4" spread then it's close enough.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Hi...

Well, it does appear that antler restrictions have been producing more mature deer. And when it does so...like here in the NE...I say go for it...!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Also, 6phunter, how do you determine whether or not it has the 15" minimum? Sounds like it would be a challenging thing to do, I have a hard enough time making sure I see atleast 4 points on one side.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Here in Missouri the antler restriction is only in place in certain counties. In the counties where the restriction is in place a buck must have 4 points on one antler to be legal. About a quarter of the counties in the S.E part of the state allow for any buck to be taken. Like elkslayer, I like the antler restriction as a way of giving young bucks time to mature, but not when people view it as a way of growing big "trophy" antlers(size does not define the trophy for me).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 6phunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

A few years ago fort knox ,ky started a 15 inch minumum restriction on bucks.THEY now are taking some real brutes.The private sector in kentucky allows you to take what you want,but on public ground restrictions are neccesary to allow bucks a chance to grow to some potential.As a novice hunter,I once also wanted anything with horns,as we mature so do our aspirations.MICHIGAN HUNTERS will be pleased with the results in 4 or 5 years.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I generally do not like antler size restrictions but if the success rate has stayed the same and youth hunters are exempt then it appears to be good in those areas. I understand and agree with size restrictions for the purpose of reducing harvest to boost game populations but not generally for the purpose of trophy hunting. (although I think it is good to provide a few units where trophy hunting is the main goal)
As long as management is made on local levels and for the right reasons it can be good and effective.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report

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from elkslayer wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I generally do not like antler size restrictions but if the success rate has stayed the same and youth hunters are exempt then it appears to be good in those areas. I understand and agree with size restrictions for the purpose of reducing harvest to boost game populations but not generally for the purpose of trophy hunting. (although I think it is good to provide a few units where trophy hunting is the main goal)
As long as management is made on local levels and for the right reasons it can be good and effective.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 6phunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

A few years ago fort knox ,ky started a 15 inch minumum restriction on bucks.THEY now are taking some real brutes.The private sector in kentucky allows you to take what you want,but on public ground restrictions are neccesary to allow bucks a chance to grow to some potential.As a novice hunter,I once also wanted anything with horns,as we mature so do our aspirations.MICHIGAN HUNTERS will be pleased with the results in 4 or 5 years.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from spike horn wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

We as sportsmen need to recongnize it is not all about antlers, they are simply a by-product of a healthy deer herd. We should be very concerned with killing all of our male deer before they are young adults. Yes in NYS most male deer are killed as yearlings, these guys are young boys at best they are not young adults. There is something wrong with the mentality that we need to have the right to kill all the males before they become adults. It is not healthy for the deer herd and it is not a thing good conservation minded people should be doing. This is what protecting Yearling Bucks with AR's is all about.

I might also add that the author has one thing incorrect in their article." The results of AR's in NY have been mixed". This simply is untrue. AR's are the most supported of most all deer hunting management stratagies according the all the NYSDEC Scienfific hunter surveys and non-scientific hunter surveys in NYS. Results have been 100% positive and hunters have become more satisfied after implementation than before.Yearling buck harvest rates dropped from 57% to 15% and 2.5 yr old harvest rates went from 29% to 36% while 3.5 yr old have gone from 14% to over 36%. This is the proof that AR's work very well in NYS.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Here in Missouri the antler restriction is only in place in certain counties. In the counties where the restriction is in place a buck must have 4 points on one antler to be legal. About a quarter of the counties in the S.E part of the state allow for any buck to be taken. Like elkslayer, I like the antler restriction as a way of giving young bucks time to mature, but not when people view it as a way of growing big "trophy" antlers(size does not define the trophy for me).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 6phunter wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

People hunt for different reasons,some hunt for the meat ,others just to spend time with friends and take a break from homelife.I doubt if anyone would want to hunt woods that didn't offer a chance to see a mature buck now and then.I'm retired and been a head hunter the last 25 years of 48 seasons hunting deer.Including bow ,black powder,and rifle seasons I'LL spend up to 70 days in the field each year.I pass up lots of shots on bucks others would be proud to harvest. I'LL average 1 good buck every 4 or 5 years.TROPHY HUNTING has it's detractors,but I doubt if it has as much impact on the herd with or without antler restrictions..Antler restrictions allow bucks to grow to some potential so hunters and non-hunters alike can enjoy thier beauty.As a hunter seasons so does the experience of the hunt become more important than the kill.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 6phunter wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Yyears ago in most states when modern deer hunted started ,only bucks wre allowed to be taken,as the herd improved doe could be taken last few days of the season.Now many states allow multible doe tags.So now antler restrictions are becoming more common,and most hunters are willing to pass on young bucks.ISHI, I don't think there is ever a valid reason to believe that a young spike should be culled as there is no way of knowing what his potential may become.Button bucks can be reconized generally and not confused with young doe as they most often travel alone in early season, these are often the ones you hear bleating like a lost child traveling to find a new area away from his birth range.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Also, 6phunter, how do you determine whether or not it has the 15" minimum? Sounds like it would be a challenging thing to do, I have a hard enough time making sure I see atleast 4 points on one side.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Hi...

Well, it does appear that antler restrictions have been producing more mature deer. And when it does so...like here in the NE...I say go for it...!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from HawkEye wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

JM- I live in Ky as well. The 15 inch antler restriction in pretty easy to tell. They put in the hunting books each year to use the ears to judge antler width. It isn't an exact science but it's close. I think some common sense from hunters and law enforcement is needed for this system to work. If someone shoots a deer with a 14 3/4" spread then it's close enough.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ishi wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Have always wondered why in some cases, small bucks are culled to remove their gene from the pool while in the case of antler restrictions, it appears to have the opposite effect?

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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