April 15, 2009: Antler restrictions should be in place


To The Editor:
For deer hunters there is now a rule that a legal buck must have one antler at least three inches long. Supporting the proposed antler restriction rule change will make it necessary for a legal buck to have one antler with at least three points. This long overdue rule change will enhance deer hunting and the general health of the deer herd.
Following are some reasons to support antler restrictions:
I would like to see more deer with heavy body weight and larger antlers.
I feel that antler restrictions would result in a better age structure in the buck population and restore a more natural balance to the age and sex structure of the entire herd.
I believe that antler restrictions would in time increase hunter satisfaction which would increase the time spent a field resulting in more expenditures i.e. gas, gear and food bettering the local economies.
Having spent many years hunting and seeing only spikes and fork horns, it would be great to see some more mature bucks and clear signs of an active rut, i.e. large scrapes and rubs. This kind of sign is exciting and exhilarating for a hunter and can really help in getting kids involved in hunting. I think this will greatly help recruiting and retaining young hunters.
Deer hunter numbers have been declining at an alarming rate since the late 1980s. I find the most satisfying things about hunting for me and my hunting buddies are seeing deer and especially seeing bucks and their sign. Antler restrictions could enhance this, which will result in recruitment and retention of hunters.
I know that antler restriction is not “trophy” management but it would eventually result in a greater portion of the buck harvest being older age deer.
Right now these yearling bucks, which presently are the bulk of the harvest, have small body weight compared to the weight of more mature bucks, giving me considerably less meat on the table.
The implementation of this rule in Pennsylvania has been a great success resulting in some of my friends going there to hunt where there is greater chance of harvesting an older buck.
An important aspect of this rule change is that it will not affect youth hunters under 17 years who can still harvest bucks with one three-inch antler.
Importantly, this is not more legislation but, a much needed, and hunter supported, change to a regulation that has been in existence since 1912 and does not meet present day deer herd dynamics.
Voluntary antler restriction simply has never worked.
This restriction should enhance safety greatly as hunters will pay closer scrutiny to ID their target and make our sport even safer.
The traditional minimum antler standard for a legal buck is based upon an old tradition, not current science.

Jack McShane