In my April “Whitetails” column, I argued that antler point restrictions (APR’s) constitute sound deer management. For those who read to the end of the column, I promised a chance to respond in this space. So here it is. I’m inviting you to chime in with your thoughts on APR’s in the popular “Shoot Me Down” format invented by my colleague Dave Hurteau.
For those who didn’t read the column, here’s a brief summary of why I support APR’s.
• Better herd balance: Under many traditional deer management models, hunting pressure is focused on young bucks. This allowed game agencies to host a deer season while still growing the herd. Encouraging the whitetail population is no longer the goal in most states. APR’s typically take pressure off young bucks and place it on does. This has the double-bang effect of reducing populations and achieving a more balanced buck/doe ratio.
• More mature bucks. The old “you can’t eat the horns” is getting to be a tired motto. Given the choice, virtually anyone would rather hunt a place where there’s at least a chance to kill a big deer. There’s no need to apologize for thinking big bucks are important, and APR’s can help grow them. And just so you know I haven’t forgotten my past; I believe young hunters should be exempt from APR’s.
• We become better managers: For years we’ve been telling the public “we’re the ones taking care of the deer herd.” Well, are we? Sure it’s fun to see a bunch of deer from our stands, but if we strive for quantity instead of quality, I think we’ll fail in the long run. If APR’s result in a smaller deer herd more in tune with the habitat, and more mature bucks as a result–not the primary goal–of that program, I’m all for them.
So there are the basics of my argument. Do you want to stand with me or shoot me down? — Scott Bestul