Deer numbers

Discussion in 'MWT Community Bulletin Board' started by Wooddust, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. Wooddust

    Wooddust Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2003
    Do you think antler regs will help manage the deer we have?
  2. Bowpredator

    Bowpredator New Member

    Jul 24, 2003
    Licking Missouri
    I believe antler regs is TDM and will manage bucks to be trophys and will have very little impact on managing the number of deer or QDM. If you really want to lower the number of does, then you simply provide more opportunity via methods, seasons, and additional tags to encourage the taking of more does.

  3. JMAC

    JMAC Senior Member

    Aug 31, 2005
    Cole County
    ARs DO encourage the taking of more does. But I understand your opposition to this topic. We've beat this dead horse to a pulp. I think your ideas would work too.

    Recently, my focus has kinda changed to micromanagement instead of statewide methods.
  4. Wooddust

    Wooddust Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2003
    i like the 4point a side rule
  5. Well Said !!!!

    I however think that the Dept. needs to take another look at all units of the state and do an analysis of deer #'s. I don't think some should be opened to unlimited antlerless tags due to not holding the #'s they once did.
  6. henry

    henry Fan Boy aka Mr Twisty and

    The talk of extending the regs to the entire state,,only 2 years into a pilot program that was supposed to be 5 years long makes me question the motives behind AR's. By the dept's own admission, there are areas of the state that still have well below ideal numbers of deer. It makes me wonder why they would want to restrict bucks and shift more pressure to the doe in these areas. I think it would lend more support to their credability, if they rode the pilot program its full 5 years before making anymore changes.

  7. winger

    winger Active Member

    Oct 24, 2003
    once again i ask, how can you try to manage an entire state off of other areas statistics. the south can't handle the pounding the north part of the state can. i believe the deer numbers now prove that in a few sw counties.
  8. henry

    henry Fan Boy aka Mr Twisty and

    That was kinda my point:D

  9. Rebel2

    Rebel2 Well-Known Member

    Dec 16, 2003
    Ozark, MO
    You mean ALL sw missouri counties :banghead: There are a few year to year that do well, those that do well are also some of the largest counties in the state...
  10. semodeerhunter

    semodeerhunter New Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    perryville mo
    In the meeting the mdc had the were talking about extending it to a few county in southeast and a western ones. I think it will be awhile before it goes state wide if ever. If it has the same results in some the southeastern counties as the central "31% increase in doe harvest"
    they will either drop the AR or go back to a draw for doe tags. Doesn't sound like making better deer hunting to me.
  11. Thayer

    Thayer New Member

    Dec 17, 2005
    Imperial, Mo
    I think the regs should be county specific...I have never hunted in Howell, Texas, or Oregon county without seeing does and little bucks. There are lots of overpopulated places in the central southern portion of our state, and the MDC should recognize this...kinda seems like big brother is taking over and one paint covers all...should not be that way and I am not for the 4 pt rule...too vague!
  12. rat

    rat Legbone

    Dec 13, 2005
    Ok.. I think the 4pt rule is a good one, generally speaking. I tend to agree with Thayer that it should be county specific. MDC should consider the line transect data and/or harvest data that they collect and implement in certain counties where needed. This way, it can remain an exploratory endeavor for now to determine if it is producing the intended result.

    4pt rule does, however, restrict the landowner when he may prefer another method to manage his herd. I know a few people that have used this rule, or a version of it, for many yrs now with success but some folks may have another idea. Kinda like being forced to wear seat belts... "we know better than you do" type mentality... might be a stretch, but I think it loosely applies..
  13. Lets do a test and see if this 4 point rule is gonna in any way help the overall herd!

    That is what i thought the results were gonna be!
  14. henry

    henry Fan Boy aka Mr Twisty and

    QDM new---or something else.

    I ran across this article on the internet and found it very intersting:

    Keith Mccaffery is the deer biologist for wisconsin, and is a writer for, among other magazines, DEER and DEER HUNTING, plus the Wisconsin Outdoor Journal... this appeared in the fall 2003 version of WOJ

    Antler Restrictions: The “New†Fad? Keith R. McCaffery

    Some fads come, some fads go. And, some hunters think that they have latched onto something new and the best thing since beer in a can. However, it is neither new nor is it as good as portable beer. What is relatively new is that antler restrictions [beam spread or, more commonly, antler point restrictions (APRs)] are again being considered by many Eastern and Southern hunting groups as a means for altering sex and age ratios of deer. A few states (notably Mississippi, Arkansas and, recently, Pennsylvania) have adopted APRs as statewide rules. A few other states, including Michigan, have a few individual counties or units where hunters have demanded mandatory APRs. Why APRs? APRs are rarely sought in areas of light hunting pressure. Mandatory APRs are normally sought only in those areas with heavy hunting and where hunters feel that too many bucks are being shot. Dreams of altering sex ratios or increasing the number of big-antlered males are at the foundation of demands for antler restrictions. But, most hunters have likely forgotten that forms of APRs were used in some Eastern states years ago, and that most Western states have employed APRs as a means to increase the number of “mature†males in their herds. After decades of use in the West, why is it that all Western states have discontinued APRs as statewide rules? Did the beer turn out to be flat? Are there lessons for us in the Western experience, or must all other states relearn the failures of APRs?

    Wisconsin Experience My first experience with antler restrictions was when I began deer hunting in the early 1950s. Wisconsin had a rule starting in 1921 that legal bucks had to possess at least one forked antler. I’m unsure that anyone recalls the purpose of the fork-horn rule. But, it may have been that hunters were sentimental about shooting spikes, or felt that there was a safety reason to have the rule. At age 12, my instructions were to shoot if I saw antlers. Fortunately I never shot an illegal spike, but I suspect that someone in our party did and I wasn’t told. I know that we did occasionally buy illegal deer from the Wardens after the season to supplement our winter meat supply. One or more of these may have been deer accidentally shot by our own party. But in those days, there were many illegal deer that were available for sale from the State. Dead deer surveys after these forked-buck-only hunts in central Wisconsin found as many deer left dead in the woods as were legally registered at check stations (S.G. DeBoer, Wis. Conserv. Bull. 1957). This APR was discontinued in 1956, and a 3-inch spike rule was adopted. Why they didn’t go for a polished antler rule, I still don’t know. Nevertheless, the “waste-factor†has been less under this short-spike rule.

    This Wisconsin experience was no doubt repeated in other Eastern states. But, let’s look at the Western experience where APRs were clearly intended to “improve†herd composition and antler size. Western States Many if not most Western states had APRs requiring, for example, a minimum of 3 points on an antler for mule deer bucks or 4 points on an antler for bull elk. The belief was that these rules would result in more “trophy-class†males.

    The earliest reference to American use of APRs for the purpose of “preserving quality of deer†that I’ve seen was in California. In 1937, California imposed a 1x2 or 2x2 minimum APR in heavily hunted counties. The subsequent evaluation concluded that, “forked horn antler class restriction was ineffective in preserving quality of deer crop under heavy hunting effort†(F.W. Johnson, Calif. Fish and Game, 1939). Colorado began a minimum 4-points on one antler restriction in 1972 for the purpose of increasing the number of trophy bull elk. Post-hunt evaluations reported the “largest number of abandoned bulls ever reported†and the second lowest ratio of branched-antlered bulls per 100 cows since 1965 (Boyd and Lipscomb, Wildl. Soc. Bull. 1976).

    Other Western states had or developed APRs despite these findings. However after decades of use and many evaluations reporting disappointing results, ALL Western states have now discontinued APRs as statewide rules. Colorado discontinued all APRs for mule deer, but retains APRs for elk in many of its units. A few other states still have limited areas with APRs to pacify hunters that persist in believing that APRs are a good thing. The two paramount reasons Western states abandoned APRs: (1) unacceptable accidental-illegal kill, and (2) harvest mortality was increased (focused) on eligible mature males.

    They found better age structures resulted when mortality was spread across all age-classes. There are additional reasons for discouraging mandatory APRs. One is that APRs protect only the smallest-antlered deer. While this likely doesn’t impact genetics, a Texas study found that APRs “may negatively impact cohort antler size in subsequent years†(Stickland, et al. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 2001.

    Other reasons include the fact that the resulting age structure will not be much more “natural†than unrestricted harvest, that the sustainable harvest of both bucks and does will be reduced, and that penalties must be imposed on those that accidentally shoot an ineligible bull or buck.

    Western states demonstrated that the best way to create an older age structure was to limit the number of hunters. This strategy would not appeal to most Wisconsin hunters who value hunting every year, all season, and in the area of their choice. There is one other proven alternative for producing a “natural†sex and age composition. That is to simulate Nature, as the late Dr. Anthony Bubenik suggested, and shoot 40-80% of the fawns starting 15 days after the peak of parturition (fawning). This, too, seems to be an option that would not receive wide hunter support!

    Sex Ratios Another reason that hunters demand APRs is to seek to correct what they perceive as grossly distorted buck:doe ratios, like 1:7, 1:12, or worse. Wisconsin hunters should know that prehunt adult sex ratios range from 1.5 does/buck in the southern farmland to about 2 does/buck in our northern forest. Reasons for not believing this is that roadside observations often show adult sex ratios nearer 3:1. Add in the fawns and there may be more than 6 deer seen for every antlered buck. What is seen is not what is there for a variety of reasons. Also, unhunted “natural†sex ratios were also female biased and best guesses put them at about 1.3-1.4 does/buck.

    I have yet to see a biology-based reason why a sex ratio of 2:1 is damaging or undesirable. A factor often overlooked by those that think they want an unnatural 1:1 sex ratio is that total harvest of both bucks and does would be reduced. One does not merely stockpile bucks.

    If you seek a 1:1 sex ratio and shoot “adequate†numbers of does to maintain a population at an established density goal, you reduce the proportion of the herd that is productive does. Thus, fewer fawns will be born into the population and total harvest of both bucks and does could be reduced by as much as 30%.

    Age Structure of Bucks Where mortality (death rate) of bucks is 60% and spread equally across all age classes, the age structure will be 60, 24,10, 6 (yearlings, 2.5, 3.5, and 4+). This is fairly typical in much of Wisconsin. Some APR advocates believe that protecting yearlings will result in 60% more bucks and an age structure like 60, 60, 24,16. However as mentioned above, the reduction of females necessary to accommodate more bucks will reduce the number of male fawns added each year.

    Fewer does in the population mean fewer buck fawns. Therefore, saving yearlings is not simple addition.

    Another factor missing in this assumption is that harvest mortality is only a portion of total mortality. In northern units it is common for more than ¼ of deaths to be from causes other than legal harvest (roadkills, winter, poaching, etc.). Thus, there is “leakage†from each age class even in the absence of legal shooting. And, mortality rates seem to increase in the older age classes. Even if bucks got smarter with age (as many hunters believe), prime age bucks are more vulnerable to other mortality – even guns as their antlers are attractions. Discuss this with a friend while having a cool one. Conclusion In Wisconsin, it is not uncommon for 15-20% of the bucks to reach age 3 and older in many areas.

    Sex ratios are not grossly distorted as some claim. And, Wisconsin continues to be one of the top trophy-producing states (twice as many Pope & Young as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas combined and ranked 3rd nationally for Boone & Crocket entries). Though seemingly popular among some hunters, most biologists are not enthusiastic about mandatory antler restrictions. If one is primarily concerned that deer be given the opportunity to manifest their full genetic potential, one should seek first to maintain deer populations well below maximum carrying capacity.

    Hunters can do more to promote “quality deer†by getting involved in discussing and understanding appropriate population goals and taking an active role in supporting efforts to maintain deer populations at those levels.

    Acknowledgments: I thank deer-biologist colleagues in Arizona and California for reviewing and providing comments to improve this article.

    I also asked him how could a qdm program be introduced, without using antler restictions, and this was his response....To really have "the user be useful to the used," the late Anthony Bubenik says shoot fawns. No matter how QDM is conducted, they are shooting the top off of the age structure. The other way is to shoot deer as they become available. This presupposes an anydeer bag limit. Paramount in deer management is keeping deer herds at modest densities so that they can manifest their genetic potential. And as you know, the Achilles' Heel of private QDM is "defining an adequate doe harvest."

    QDM is a catalyst for privatization of deer. Not a good trend.