April 27, 2009
Big Buck or Big Brother?
By Scott Bestul
Minnesota is one of a growing number of states pondering management strategies that would increase antlerless harvest, as well as the number of mature bucks. While the Gopher State is a long way from implementing any specific regulations, some of the changes under consideration are Antler Point Restrictions (APR’s), moving firearms seasons out of the peak rut, and eliminating cross-tagging of bucks.
These strategies have been successfully implemented in other states. Pennsylvania and Missouri, for example, have used APRs for several seasons and have been successful in protecting a large percentage of yearling bucks. Other states, like Iowa, hold firearms seasons long after the rut is over. Theoretically, this gives the deer a chance to complete the breeding cycle without the interruption of extreme hunting pressure and the obvious removal of a fair percentage of the buck herd. Their late gun season is one of the main reasons Iowa holds the monster bucks it does.
Still, the winds of even possible change are not welcomed by all hunters. Though many whitetail hunters lobby for rules and regs that give bucks at least some protection, others argue strongly for keeping traditional approaches in place. I’ve listened to a lot of Minnesota hunters speak on this subject through the years, and the opinions are all over the map. So I’m interested in a little broader perspective. What are your thoughts? Should state game agencies tweak seasons and regulations to encourage a better age structure among bucks and a more balanced buck/doe ratio? Or should they just hold a deer season and leave such management strategies up to individual hunters?