Do Antler Restrictions Actually Work?
“A look inside the effectiveness of rules designed to protect young bucks
As of 2021, at least 21 states have some version of antler restriction, and few topics in the world of deer management are more hot-button. In the words of the National Deer Association, “Antler restrictions are not synonymous with quality deer management. Rather, antler restrictions are a strategy to protect a specific age class or classes of bucks.”
Based on NDA’s compiled data, during the 2021 deer season, seven states had statewide antler restrictions (for at least one buck), and 14 states (and Quebec) had partial limits, usually restrictions implemented in certain regions, zones, public lands or military bases.
Antler restrictions might include requirements on beam length, spread width, total points or total score. Most states use total antler points, which is the easiest for even inexperienced deer hunters to follow. The point restrictions generally range from two to four points on each side, with four being the most common rule.
Still, point restrictions aren’t the most effective type of antler restriction. “Antler spread is a better predictor of whether a buck is 1½ or 2½ years or older and is therefore a more biologically sound approach to protecting yearlings,” NDA said.
But of course, antler restrictions aren’t foolproof. A 2½-year-old 10-pointer with incredible potential might be legal to shoot, but a gnarly 5½-year-old 6-pointer could be off limits under a point restriction. Because of that, some areas require legal bucks to hit one of two or three benchmarks, such as total points and antler spread.”
The full article can be found here.
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