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Do antler restrictions work?

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This can certainly be a touchy subject. I have had mixed emotions about this subject until I read the article 'Antler restrictions gone bad'.
The guy makes some great points. I do feel like antler restrictions can work to protect yearling Bucks but as the article stated it needs to be the right antler restriction IF there is one for the area in question.
I'm curious how many of you guys see older Bucks that don't have 4 points on a side?
On the other hand how many of you guys see yearlings that do have 4 points on a side?
How many of you see older Bucks that don't have a spread outside of the ears?
No question that learning how to age the Buck on the hoof would solve all of these problems because we wouldn't have to depend on the antler restriction working.

Just curious about other people's thoughts!
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   slickhead
The problem with all this trophy hunting mentality is...well there are a bunch of them!

First off, in most wild situations a mature deer does not stand there long enough to let you figure out how old he is, you have to know right that instance if he is a 'shooter'. LORD knows I hate that term 'shooter'. In a high fence situation under a feeder, yes, but not in the wild.

Most deer that are shot in Louisiana as 'trophy' bucks are not even in their prime. They would all gain some mass the next year. Once a deer reaches 4 1/2 or older they are scarce and that is how they made it to that age in the first place.

Trophy deer hunting has almost taken the fun out of deer hunting in my opinion. If you want to play god, then buy and area and put a fence on it, but don't let your views spill onto public land
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   JB
slick - I don't think letting a spike or small buck go is 'trophy mentality.' I just think the vast majority of hunters would like to kill better deer. Will I shoot a spike if I have the chance? Probably, especially if it's a bigger spike and not a 90 pound deer with 3 inch spikes. People can say they hunt for meat and all that other stuff but that, I think, is to justify shooting any deer the want to. If a 90 pound spike and 160 inch Booner walk out together, NOBODY would pass on the bigger deer even though everybody knows the meat on the 90 pound deer is better. We all want to kill the biggest deer possible. Some of us hunt where we can do that, others do not. To each their own. But, letting an obvious yearling buck walk is very easy to do, once you see what it does for next season.
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   slickhead
Hunt r, jawbones are not completely accurate and I doubt you looked at hundreds from Tensas NWR or even looked at their data because they age them as fawn, 1.5, 2.5 or 2.5+, that is all my friend.
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Hunt r, are you saying most bucks in LA. are 4.5 years old before they have branched antlers? I don't believe that. The majority of 2.5 year old deer in La. are not spikes!
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   slickhead
You have killed 100 spikes before 1995?!

Oh lord, popcorn
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Most deer in LA have spikes their first 3 years????? If that is what you are seeing on your property, you are in desperate need of habitat improvement projects and herd reduction. Even in commercial pine plantations on the poorest soils in LA, you can expect branched antlers on 2 year olds and up. 95+% of spikes are 1.5 year old deer. And before you ask where I got my data from, it's from 15 years of being a professional in the wildlife field and aging thousands of deer by both the toothwear and replacement and cementum annuli techniques. There have also been numerous studies conducted by various universities documenting this. Actually, the old idea of spikes are older than 1.5 years old has been disproved so many times, I didn't realize people still thought that. As far as 3 year olds, by that age most bucks have reached 70-80% of their potential antler growth. On variois properties we manage, we routinely kill 3.5 year old bucks that average 100' - 130', depending in the property. Our clients have killed 3.5 year old bucks approaching 150'. And that is all free range, no high fences, in LA and MS. And all our deer are aged using combinations of both aging techniques, depending on the property and jawbones are aged by multiple people to eliminate bias.
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Well a 6 year old 130' living on Mississippi River alluvial soil definitely would never stand out. But you said your 3 year olds in tenses parish are spikes. We grow 3 year olds with 130' on piss poor pine plantation. On Mississippi River and Red River alluvial soils, we are killing 4-7 year old ranging from 150' - 200'. You have to compare apples and apples!
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   slickhead
Most deer in the state at 3.5 yrs old average 7 points. I will post the table tomorrow

I have to bite my tongue on most this stuff hunt r, you are killing me!
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i prefer non-fiction over fiction. this is unbelievable. yall have fun cant wait till hunting season iam outta here.
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Exactly slick head!!!!
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I don't see a whole lot of 4.5+ yr old deer so I can't answer most of the questions posed about the older age class. Almost all of the 3.5 yr olds that I see have at least 4 on one side and almost all have an inside spread that is even with or outside the ears. And I'm in an area where they often grow more up than out.
I have not yet read the article on antler restrictions but there seems to be inherent weaknesses. However, unless you have every hunter adept at aging on the hoof, it is probably the best way to progress young deer to the next age class and reach more of their potential. The obvious disadvantage is that it promotes harvesting out the most desirable traits from the gene pool and leaving behind the least desirable.
In a public land setting and with the general public you can not manage based on such subjective criteria as on-the-hoof aging or tooth wear. It is even difficult to do that with a club unless it is small and you can ensure that every member can accurately age live deer, then has the willpower to let a trophy young deer go and is willing to shoot an older deer with poorer antler development. Thats a tough calling in a deer club setting.
That leaves antler restrictions for those environments. I've seen them as basic as inside spread and more complex like points on a side combined with main beam length and even more complex with at least 2 out of 3 variables or 3 out of 5 variables to be a shooter. That gets difficult too and there are varying degrees of individual tolerance for rules, rules, rules.
Every known method has is pluses and minuses and one will best fit one group of hunters here but not there. Public management to me seems the most difficult because you have to keep it pretty simple, very objective and satisfactory to novices and those with much experience alike, and yet try to manage the resource in a desirable way against competing interests. Not to mention you'll never please everyone and they'll point out every weakness in the rules you've chosen. I feel for you LDWF...you guys and gals to a heck of a job for not a lot of pay and not a lot of thanks. Its a difficult task but somebody has to do it.
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With your understanding in addition to reading the article 'Antler restrictions gone bad' you would also enjoy the article 'State deer biologists have a difficult task'. I found both of these on the same website where I found the pibald buck video. After watching the video 'how to age a buck on the hoof' and going through lots of trailcam pics(mostly night pics of course) our group is getting pretty good at ageing on the hoof (fawn, 1 1/2 2 1/2 and 3 1/2+) and are confident that we will get better as we continue to study video and pics. I agree with the remark that was made that letting a BB or yearling buck walk shouldn't be considered trophy management. We just want to see more bucks and better bucks.
I also agree that public land is a whole different situation than private land.

Thanks for all of the input guys!
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   slickhead
Some extra info, just FYI
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Thanks for the table. It would be hard to establish a certain antler characteristic for 3 1/2 year old and older bucks from that.
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   hunt r
www.clementinewildlife.com, our records last 5yrs., 41/2yr. olds. Avg, weight, 225lbs., avg. number of pts., 11.3, beam length, 20inches, inside spread, 18in. basal circumference 5.3in., average mass, 32 inches., no fences, heavy hunting pressure. Oddly our 31/2 yr. old are right on average. Can you show a chart that shows average 21/2yr. old bucks? by the way, that was from 2001, things are much different now.
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   slickhead
'our records last 5yrs., 41/2yr. olds. Avg, weight, 225lbs., avg. number of pts., 11.3, beam length, 20inches, inside spread, 18in. basal circumference 5.3in., average mass, 32 inches., no fences, heavy hunting pressure. Oddly our 31/2 yr. old are right on average. Can you show a chart that shows average 21/2yr. old bucks? by the way, that was from 2001, things are much different now. '

You are very correct in that things are much different now than 2001. There are thousands more experts on deer now than 2001 haha!!
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It is Very Easy to manage for older class Bucks on Public Land.

All you have to do is Limit The Firearm Days, and Lottery the few days that are granted. Adjust days and # of lottery permits to fit each particular area as needed.

More 1.5 bucks would move on , and so on domino effect. That is the Only way to do it on public land.

Our generations are too different and far apart to agree to voluntarily let bucks walk. They won't do it.
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   KenneyD
I'm the 3 parish area that did the trial run on shooting 6 point or better. The club that I belonged to used to have the motto... 'If it's brown, it's down' and other to that effect. People weren't happy with the restrictions the first couple of years, but then we started seeing racks like we never seen before. We agreed to shoot 8 point or better and I was letting 6's and 8's walk by regular. Now with that being said, we still shoot smaller 8's if we want, but the clubs around us is back to shooting anything brown and round and we don't have a big lease. But what I've seen in those years the 3 parish's had the restrictions, you will have much better deer if you let them get to 2.5 to 3 years old. My humble opinion is yes, it will work if you let deer get to their full potential.
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Rack management on non fenced land is the same today as it has always been. You want bigger racks you only need to do one thing. Shoot fewer bucks. Age is the most important factor.

Individual deer will certainly vary. And this set of rules over that set of rules with regards to which buck to shoot and which buck to let walk is just tweeks. Nothing is more important than age.
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