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#3658948 - 04/29/14 10:16 PM Re: Deer population & hunter success in decline? [Re: BSK]
TNlandowner
6 Point


Registered: 03/28/06
Posts: 524
Loc: Carroll County

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Gentlemen,
I am able to harvest mature bucks every year. Some years 1 buck, others 3, and more bucks (I hunt several states) on better years. So, place me in whatever statistical subset is appropriate. The key in my situation is I have a choice on which deer to harvest.
My question is why another hunter would attack my ability to pursue happiness by hunting mature bucks? Why are you worried if I harvest three mature bucks on lands that we manage?

In all fairness, I don't understand the push for buck limit reductions. If a change is absolutely needed, why not focus on protecting younger bucks?

We should not be in such a rush to "over-regulate" deer hunting. One may simply view European models as an example of how to end hunting in the USA.




Edited by TNlandowner (04/30/14 07:32 AM)
Edit Reason: added photo
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#3659719 - 04/30/14 07:41 PM Re: Deer population & hunter success in decline? [Re: TNlandowner]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19199
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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 Originally Posted By: TNlandowner
I am able to harvest mature bucks every year. Some years 1 buck, others 3, and more bucks (I hunt several states) on better years. So, place me in whatever statistical subset is appropriate. The key in my situation is I have a choice on which deer to harvest.

CONGRATULATIONS!
The average TN hunter (who only hunts in TN), not only VERY SELDOM if ever has killed a mature buck in his life, but only averages "a" buck about once every 3 years. So I would appropriately place you in a statistical subset of "very accomplished".

Please note what you consider the "key" in your situation. \:\)

 Originally Posted By: TNlandowner
My question is why another hunter would attack my ability to pursue happiness by hunting mature bucks? Why are you worried if I harvest three mature bucks on lands that we manage?

Like you, I am also happiest hunting specifically for mature bucks, and managing to have more of them, specifically, more large-antlered mature bucks. Best I can determine, most hunters are not attacking another hunter's ability to pursue happiness by hunting mature bucks, although some do, I don't know why. (Similarly, some attack another hunter's ability to pursue happiness by hunting "a" buck.)

But I do know why some worry if bucks (mature or otherwise) are getting over-harvested by either a minority of accomplished hunters (or a majority of less accomplished hunters). Whether or not there should be any concern of "a" particular hunter over-harvesting bucks on lands that he "manages" would likely depend on just how much land he is managing. The average mature buck is roaming across several miles of land, and is not necessarily "owned" by any one landowner. Even though we commonly think of the bucks we see on our land as "our" bucks, we have neighbors and their neighbors calling those same bucks "theirs".

 Originally Posted By: TNlandowner
In all fairness, I don't understand the push for buck limit reductions. If a change is absolutely needed, why not focus on protecting younger bucks?

I think you answered your own question with what you consider "key" to your own personal situation in the 1st paragraph above, i.e. freedom of choice on whichever buck a hunter chooses to harvest.

Going from a 3 to a 2-buck limit would only compromise those hunters who regularly do kill 3 bucks annually. Based on what I've seen, most in TN who do regularly kill 3 bucks annually are NOT killing mature bucks. But the average TN hunter? He may not be too concerned should some of us only be allowed to kill 2 instead of 3 in the future, might even prefer it. However, going to a 2-buck limit would cause more young bucks to live older, would help to increase the number of mature bucks.

Regarding antler restrictions, the only ones that would ever have any chance of being imposed would be those that mainly just protect yearling bucks. These have been proven to increase antler high-grading, mainly leaving those bucks with the smallest antlers to survive to maturity. Would you want that? More mature bucks, but carrying smaller antlers than mature bucks carried before a few years of antler restrictions?

 Originally Posted By: TNlandowner
We should not be in such a rush to "over-regulate" deer hunting. One may simply view European models as an example of how to end hunting in the USA.

And we're not, nor should we.
The trend in Tennessee has been to "de-regulate" not "over-regulate". Antler restrictions would be increasing regulations. Changing the buck limit from 3 to 2 is simply a small adjustment to an existing limit. Neither of these options has anything to do with the European model of wildlife management.

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#3659724 - 04/30/14 07:48 PM Re: Deer population & hunter success in decline? [Re: BSK]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19199
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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 Originally Posted By: BSK
 Originally Posted By: Wes Parrish
 Originally Posted By: BSK
However, I STRONGLY suspect that of that 1 in 3 deer hunters that are successful at killing at least one buck each year, there is a large subset of that group that is successful every year, and this subset are the "serious deer hunters." I suspect this group kills the vast majority of the bucks killed each year.

Not only have you hit the nail on the head, but this, my friend, is thinking outside the box of just tabulating raw data!
THIS is why going from a 3-buck to a 2-buck limit may do much more for herd health than the data tabulators can imagine.
This issue is not so much how many hunters currently kill 3 bucks annually, or 2 bucks annually, but more about WHICH hunters consistently average killing 1 or more bucks annually. . . . . . Not only will their actions improve buck:doe ratios and buck age structure, but these same actions will also increase the harvest success of those less-avid hunters who may only hunt a couple weekends a year during gun season.
A real possibility Wes. I don't think going to a 2 buck limit would help much, but it very well might.

I am glad we agree it would "do no harm". \:\)
I think we agree it WOULD improve herd health and hunter success, even if only slightly?

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#3660006 - 05/01/14 08:32 AM Re: Deer population & hunter success in decline? [Re: Wes Parrish]
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
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Registered: 03/11/99
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 Originally Posted By: Wes Parrish
 Originally Posted By: BSK
A real possibility Wes. I don't think going to a 2 buck limit would help much, but it very well might.

I am glad we agree it would "do no harm". \:\)
I think we agree it WOULD improve herd health and hunter success, even if only slightly?


A 2 buck limit would certainly do no harm to the deer herd, just to hunter opportunity (although few hunters actually kill 3 bucks).

However, I question just how much it would help herd health. It might help, but again, the evidence I've seen makes me question whether a 2 buck limit would "save" enough young bucks to make a difference. It might, but I don't feel confident in saying it would.
_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#3660047 - 05/01/14 09:36 AM Re: Deer population & hunter success in decline? [Re: BSK]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19199
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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 Originally Posted By: BSK
A 2 buck limit would certainly do no harm to the deer herd, just to hunter opportunity (although few hunters actually kill 3 bucks).

I am puzzled by your comment regarding the hunter opportunity being "harmed"? This makes little sense to me, since if over 90% have increased opportunity, while less than 10% have decreased opportunity (and that only in being limited to 2 instead of 3 bucks), how does this "change" not provide more benefit than detriment to 90-plus percent of the hunters?

Considering that over 90% of hunters do NOT kill 3 bucks annually, to what extent those who do kill 3 go to killing 2, this WOULD BENEFIT those who have been taking 2 and fewer via providing them increased target opportunity?

That would appear an overall increase in overall hunter opportunity, as the expectation is that MORE hunters would harvest at least one (or more) bucks annually?

It could also be argued that a 1-buck limit provides even much greater harvest opportunity to the "average" deer hunter for these same reasons. But as stated many times, I am not in favor of a 1-buck limit, seeing the 2-buck limit as the best middle ground on buck limits.

I guess the real issue becomes to what extent do we design regulations more for a minority of hunters than the majority, coupled with to what extent we weigh "do no harm" to herd health vs. "improving" herd health?

In the meantime, herd health appears to be declining since we more recently went to a simple 3-buck limit (which began when the November muzzleloader season segment went from a limit of 1 buck to 3 bucks).

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#3660295 - 05/01/14 03:43 PM Re: Deer population & hunter success in decline? [Re: Wes Parrish]
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
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Registered: 03/11/99
Posts: 65075
Loc: Nashville, TN

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 Originally Posted By: Wes Parrish
[quote=BSK]Considering that over 90% of hunters do NOT kill 3 bucks annually, to what extent those who do kill 3 go to killing 2, this WOULD BENEFIT those who have been taking 2 and fewer via providing them increased target opportunity?


This idea--that if fewer bucks are killed, more survive until next year, hence produce more targets and more opportunity for hunters the following year--makes logical sense. However, the data suggests that in reality, it didn't happen when TN tried it earlier. When TN went from a de facto 11 buck limit (when the total bucks allowed with each weapon are added together) in 1997 to a 2 buck limit in 1998, we saw what was hoped for: a huge decline in yearling bucks killed in 1998. Statistically, it appears that change in limits "saved" between 20,000 and 30,000 yearling bucks from harvest. And if the logical hypothesis that fewer yearling bucks being killed will produce far more older buck targets the following year, then 2 1/2 year-old buck kills should have taken a corresponding jump the following year, in 1999. Yet they didn't. In fact, they didn't even take a little blip upwards. The harvest of 2 1/2 year-old bucks just cruised through the change in limits without any change in the slow rate of increase that had been going on for a number of years prior to the limit change. So the idea that having more older bucks in the woods will produce more older bucks killed by hunters isn't correct. We saw no major upswing in older bucks killed the year after the major limit change or any year after.

In addition, if the theory that fewer bucks being killed "spreads the available bucks out to more hunters" is true, the year hunters are more limited in their kills, hunter success should rise significantly. Yet we didn't see that either. Like the harvest of 2 1/2 year-old bucks, hunter success cruised through the dramatic change in limits without any significant improvements. Hunter success had been increasing slowly for some time prior to the limit change, and it continued improving at the same slow rate right through the limit change. It appears the limit change--and a very dramatic one at that--really did not increase hunter success. It did not "spread the available bucks out between more hunters" as logic would suggest.

It is just these major differences between logical "theory," and measured reality that make me question what would be accomplished by lowering the buck limit from 3 to 2. Considering the reality we have seen in the past, it might help, but the data suggest otherwise.
_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#3660565 - 05/01/14 09:36 PM Re: Deer population & hunter success in decline? [Re: BSK]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19199
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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 Originally Posted By: BSK
This idea--that if fewer bucks are killed, more survive until next year, hence produce more targets and more opportunity for hunters the following year--makes logical sense. . . . . . . We saw no major upswing in older bucks killed the year after the major limit change or any year after.
. . . . .
It is just these major differences between logical "theory," and measured reality that make me question what would be accomplished by lowering the buck limit from 3 to 2.

Well, gee, based on that data, why not just make the annual buck limit 100, as what difference would it make? We could be more like Alabama! \:\)

Does our harvest data really measure reality? Do bucks really shed their antlers?

The harvest data is what it is, and there appears many variables are coming into play. Among them, I suspect the less avid hunters are hunting considerably fewer days than this particular hunter group did back in the 90's. At least that has been my field observation. Meanwhile, the avid hunters may have become more effective, to the point of creating significantly more antler high-grading of the 2 1/2-yr-old buck cohort. And with this wide-spread promotion of antler restrictions (such as 4 on a side), there seems to be significant antler high-grading of the yearling cohort as well.

Fact is, so many of the variables effecting the deer harvest have changed that the actual deer "kill" says much less than it did in times past. But we can still logically conclude that if there are more 3 1/2 & older bucks in a square mile, there is greater opportunity for any and all hunters to kill one, than if there were fewer.

But more pointedly, how has the buck harvest of 3 1/2 & older bucks trended over the past 3 years? 2 1/2's? Yearlings? And relative to the doe harvest? How about the trends in antler high-grading, whoops, that's not in the data?

No one has said going from a 3-buck limit to a 2-buck limit would make a "major" difference in one year, or even a few. It's just a targeted adjustment to improve both herd health and hunter opportunity incrementally over time. Kinda like when we're a little overweight, and we ponder is it better to do nothing differently and keep gaining "only" 5 lbs a year (less healthy) vs. making a small adjustment and losing 5 lbs a year (more healthy).

Again, how are we TRENDING (particularly since we went to a simple 3-buck limit which increased the November muzzleloader segment limit from 1 to 3 bucks),
and where will we be in another three or four years?

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#3660755 - 05/02/14 07:59 AM Re: Deer population & hunter success in decline? [Re: Wes Parrish]
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
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Registered: 03/11/99
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 Originally Posted By: Wes Parrish
Fact is, so many of the variables effecting the deer harvest have changed that the actual deer "kill" says much less than it did in times past.


I agree with that statement. And that's why it's up to those assessing the data to try and track the changes in hunter attitudes and trends that effect what is being harvested. However, that doesn't change the fact that in the past in TN, lower buck limits did NOT produce the changes that we expected to logically see. Killing 20,000 to 30,000 less yearling bucks in one year did not produce higher 2 1/2 year-old buck kills the following year. 20,000 to 30,000 more bucks in the woods did not "spread the kill between more hunters." Now without question it improved the buck age structure, but an improved buck age structure did not result in hunters killing more of those older bucks. I'm not arguing against management. I'm just pointing out that what we expect to see from a management change may not occur at all.

 Quote:
But more pointedly, how has the buck harvest of 3 1/2 & older bucks trended over the past 3 years? 2 1/2's? Yearlings?


It has been slightly downward. But is that the result of the 3 buck limit, or is that the result of the recent unprecedented increase in hunters who say they primarily hunt for meat?

 Quote:
No one has said going from a 3-buck limit to a 2-buck limit would make a "major" difference in one year, or even a few. It's just a targeted adjustment to improve both herd health and hunter opportunity incrementally over time.


As I've said many times, I'm perfectly happy--both scientifically and as a hunter--with our current 3 buck limit. However I would be equally happy--both scientifically and as a hunter--with a 2 buck limit. Yet based on the data collected to date, I cannot and will not scientifically make the case that a 2 buck limit would significantly improve herd health or hunter success. The data does not support that hypothesis.
_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#3660832 - 05/02/14 09:35 AM Re: Deer population & hunter success in decline? [Re: BSK]
Mike Belt
TnDeer Old Timer
16 Point


Registered: 03/26/99
Posts: 17812
Loc: Lakeland, Tn.

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Interesting topic and it could be discussed and cussed in many directions. First of all let me say that I am satisfied with our current 3 buck limit but I can see no problem with dropping to a 2 buck limit either. I don't doubt that drop would result in a few more bucks spread statewide but I also question whether that increase would result in any tangible increase in overall statewide kill... particularly if that buck kill increase is static now and considering that older bucks are inclined to be harder to kill. When and if the limit was dropped to 2 bucks and the results were marginal would the outcry become a 1 buck limit?

As known I hunt at Ames Plantation. We've had a 2 buck limit since the club's inception. Our size restriction severely limits our yearling buck harvest and our overall buck harvest altogether. It is much more a factor than the 2 buck limit. That 2 buck limit has resulted in more older bucks in the population but coupled with our size restriction, I can't tell that it's increased the available number of legal killable bucks. If the goal of a reduced limit is to increase the size of bucks in a population the results probably won't be noticeable. Just as water seeks it's own level a buck population in any given area is going to reach it's potential and stabilize at that point. At that point if size is the goal it really doesn't matter whether the limit is 1, 2, or 3.
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#3660902 - 05/02/14 10:30 AM Re: Deer population & hunter success in decline? [Re: Mike Belt]
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
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Registered: 03/11/99
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Loc: Nashville, TN

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 Originally Posted By: Mike Belt
Just as water seeks it's own level a buck population in any given area is going to reach it's potential and stabilize at that point.


That's a critically important point Mike. As I was pointing out to BGG the other day, I now have 15 years of detailed buck age structure data from my area (season-long photo-census). In the early years of data collection, buck age structure was improving fairly rapidly. However, it eventually leveled off and reached a very stable equilibrium. In fact, no matter what is killed locally, the buck age structure hasn't moved in either direction since 2004. This indicates you can't "stockpile" older bucks. Eventually Nature stabilizes the buck age structure in a given environment. The idea that "If we could just save more young bucks, eventually we will have a lot of mature bucks" doesn't hold true. Without MAJOR changes in hunter harvest, eventually buck age structure "maxes out" in the area, and the "max" isn't anywhere near as high as hunters think it will be. In MOST normally hunted environments (and these numbers come from data collected everywhere from the Deep South to trophy managed properties in IL and IA), mature bucks make up 8-13% of the total buck population.
_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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