April 27, 2017

Antler Point Restrictions Eliminates Still Hunting/Stalking

As is often the case, Quality Deer Management and their associates, continue to push for antler point restrictions on whitetail bucks for what I see as mostly satisfying the selfish trophy hunter determined to fill the woods with larger antlered deer. I think the decision should be based on biology and management goals, which I think the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is attempting to do.

When you stop and think about the proposed antler point restrictions, at least three points longer than one inch on at least one side of the antlers, one is almost exclusively regulated to tree stand “hunting” or hunting from a blind. I’ve hunted for many years in Maine, long before the “bucks only” law, or the issuance of “Any-Deer Permits” were formulated. Whether stalking, still hunting, in a tree stand or a ground blind, it’s relatively easy to determine if a deer has horns longer than 3 1/2 inches. In other words, if you see your target long enough to make that recognition, you are therefore, sure of your target, which is the law. It is also my assumption that this length of antler restrictions was decided upon because typically a deer that has antlers longer than 3 1/2 inches, the length is longer due to age. If a fawn (button buck) has started to grow antlers, they are typically just knobs. A 1 1/2 year-old-buck would generally have larger antlers but not necessarily three points of at least one inch. Yes, there are exceptions to that observation.

If you were to change the law to require 3 points of at least one inch in length, that requires the hunter to be in a position where they can see a standing deer long enough to assess the antler points and length, i.e. a tree stand or blind. This would, by default, remove one tactic of hunting and severely limit a hunter’s opportunity to harvest a deer.

I don’t like that idea very much because I am and always have been more of a still hunter/stalker than a sitter. Occasionally I might sit in a ground blind but never in a tree stand because of physical difficulty in climbing.

However, I would support an antler point restriction, different from what it is now, if and when somebody can give me the science to support the need, rather than the want,  in Maine. I have read most of the literature and I just don’t see much of it applying to the State of Maine and its deer herd. But I’m ready to see more proof of need.

On a related note, I read where Maine is in year one of a five your deer study on land in northern Maine owned by the major land owners. Why is stuff like this not announced except as an aside to other issues?

In the same article where I read that, I also read, “The deer are not rebounding the way we think they should despite protection of deer yards.” Now that’s something to think about for all you that blame loss of habitat and global warming for the demise of Maine’s deer herd.