January 16, 2008 at 11:41pm
Over the years, I've seen this same discussion several times. As I've pointed out several time, we have very diverse habitats through different regions of the state. 1 1/2 year old 6 points are common in northeast La., especially among the agricultural lands along the Mississippi river. Just this past weekend, my brother killed a 2 year old 8pt on Big Lake WMA, with a 15" spread and field dressed 125#. I've killed a 2 1/2 yr old 8pt that field dressed 142 in the piney hills. This season I've killed a 3 1/2 yr old 10 pt. that field dressed 173#. In the marshes, you'll be hard pressed to find a buck with a rack like any of those at such a young age.
As for the argument of antler restrictions for the sake of improvin age structure, the 2 8 points I mentioned are a perfect illustration of how little those restrictions would accomplish, to the end of age structure, in this region of the state.
I believe in letting the young bucks walk, and generally practice it, even when hunting on public land. I am firmly against a statewide mandated minimum antler restriction, though, for a couple of different reasons.
First, there is no harm done to the herd by a hunter that would kill A spike. I do, however, believe that harm CAN be done to the herd by anyone that would continue shooting a spike every time one walks out through the season. We have some people that don't get to spend much time in the woods, maybe only getting to hunt for only 1 or 2 days per season, yet hunting licenses still cost just as much for them as for the ones that spend almost every day in the woods. I think it's wrong to tell a hunter in that circumstance that he can't take the only deer he got to see all season, because somebody else didn't think it was old enough yet.
Another reason I'm against state mandated antler restrictions is that under a private management scenario, if you see an older buck that is CLEARLY mature, but has substandard antlers, you have the lattitude to harvest what is considered a cull buck. Under government imposed restrictions, you no longer have the abilitly to adequately manage the deer herd that you are hunting.
In short, not all of our deer herds across the state are the same, and the certainly can't all be managed properly with any statewide plan. In this part of the state, we've come a LONG way in the past few years with what we're seeing, on both public and private lands, I think probably due more to education and SPORTSMEN's attitudes than any other reasons. (Go to http://www.simmonssportinggoods.com/bigguck.asp
to see some of the bucks from this area. Some may be from Ar and Ms, but half of them are from La.)