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#595637 - 02/02/08 11:58 AM AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs
Wes Parrish
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I would have to wonder, in such places as Catoosa WMA & President's Island WMA, if there were simply no antler restrictions at all, but instead only 2 1/2-yr-old or older bucks were legal ---- would more hunters be happier with the hunting, and the prospects for taking an exceptionally large antlered older buck?

Would it really be that hard to educate hunters to distinguish yearling bucks from older bucks? I believe many would then voluntarily take it a step further and begin targeting 3 1/2-yr-old and older bucks.

If your goal is simply to produce more 2 1/2-yr-old bucks, then of course, antler restrictions such as "4 points on one side, 8 points, 9 points, etc." will certainly do a great job in accomplishing this goal.

But many hunters state they have a personal goal of killing a large antlered buck, something that generally cannot even begin to happen prior to a buck reaching 3 1/2 years or older. And for any buck to even approach his antlers' genetic potential, he must reach the age of 4 1/2. But then again, how one defines "large" antlers comes into play.

My thinking is that most "practical" antler restrictions (those in use by most WMA's that use antler restrictions) actually increase the harvest of the genetically best antlered 2 1/2-yr-old and younger bucks. My thinking is that WITHOUT antler restrictions, many of these same areas would in fact have MORE genetically superior (large) antlered older bucks, albeit they would have fewer older bucks.

BECAUSE of antler restrictions, the best antlered yearlings are killed at a higher rate on the Catoosa WMA than would be killed if there were no antler restrictions at all. BECAUSE of antler restrictions, the best antlered 2 1/2-yr-old bucks are killed at a higher rate on President's Island WMA than they would be killed if there were no antler restrictions at all.

And even those places where the majority of yearling bucks are fork-horns or smaller, if they use antler restrictions, BECAUSE of those antler restrictions, the best antlered younger bucks will be killed at a higher rate --- leaving fewer of the best to reach the older age classes.

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#595649 - 02/02/08 12:07 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Wes Parrish]
Wes Parrish
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 Originally Posted By: WesParrish
Would it really be that hard to educate hunters to distinguish yearling bucks from older bucks?

With only minimal instruction,
is it really harder for an "average" hunter to identify a particular buck as a "yearling", than it is to:

1) Count 4 points an inch or greater in length on one of two antlers?

2) Count 9 total points an inch or greater in length while scrutinizing both antlers?

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#595652 - 02/02/08 12:08 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Wes Parrish]
BSK
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I see both sides of that arguement. Management works best when hunters target bucks by age instead of antler size. On the flip side, I can see where regulations for everyone--experienced or not--must be very clear-cut, and simply saying "bucks must be 2 1/2 or older for harvest" is too arbitrary for the average hunter.
_________________________
"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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#595653 - 02/02/08 12:09 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Wes Parrish]
Wes Parrish
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Let's consider possible repercussions of a hunter making an honest mistake in the field, i.e. killing an illegal buck.

And I say this in terms of overall hunter satisfaction, both in normally not making a mistake, but even in the event of making one.

At present, a hunter on President's Island could kill a 150-class 5 1/2-yr-old mature 8-point buck, and not only would it be illegal, but he would have that buck confiscated. This could happen if that 9th point was measured to only be 7/8-inch in length. Wouldn't that be a bummer? Of course, I think it's a big bummer that any fully mature buck isn't legal for harvest in the first place.

On the other hand, let's say you accidentally killed a yearling buck, and it got confiscated. Bummer? Yes, not nearly as bad.

In the case of these WMAs, the repercussions of killing an illegal buck could simply be a small fine, confiscation of the buck, and not being allowed to apply for any quota WMA hunts the subsequent year --- just reasonable repercussions --- like disallowing yearling bucks from harvest could also be "reasonable", maybe more reasonable than any of the antler restrictions currently being used on WMAs.

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#595666 - 02/02/08 12:23 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: BSK]
Wes Parrish
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 Originally Posted By: BSK
. . . . simply saying "bucks must be 2 1/2 or older for harvest" is too arbitrary for the average hunter.

Yet the current antler restrictions, for the average hunter, expect him to pass up fully mature bucks, even those of Boone & Crockett racks? I find that too non-arbitrary.

Especially, when those same antler restrictions actually increase the harvest of the largest antlered (or at least the ones with the most antler points) younger bucks.

Would you rather have a yearling buck confiscated (as a non-arbitrary penalty) or a mature buck of B & C antlers confiscated (as a non-arbitrary penalty)?

IMO, with only minimal instruction, I believe it's easier for an "average" hunter (in most real-world hunting of free-roaming deer) to identify a yearling buck than it is to count 9 points over an inch in length. And the arbitrary "penalty" for making a mistake is certainly more palatable if I have a yearling buck confiscated than a B & C one.

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#595685 - 02/02/08 12:40 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Wes Parrish]
BSK
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That would be an interesting experiment Wes. How accurately could the average hunter to learn to identify the difference between yearing bucks and older bucks in the field? Set up just that situation and them look at the percentage of yearlings in their harvest.
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#595770 - 02/02/08 02:36 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: BSK]
Wes Parrish
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BSK,

A big part of why TWRA does things however they do them has to do with "hunter satisfaction", or better stated, "anticipated" and/or "perceived" hunter satisfaction. Same can be said for many QDM clubs (as well as non-QDM clubs).

My question is could there be ways found to both increase real hunter satisfaction and simultaneously manage a deer herd in a more biologically sound manner? Specifically, could eliminating yearling bucks from harvest, produce a better balance of hunter satisfaction and better herd management than any of the antler restrictions being used (on TN's select WMA's using antler restrictions)?

I'll use a common field example while hunting.
A buck comes by, giving only seconds to access either the buck's age or his antlers, but plenty of time to make a good shot.

Is it more dissatisfying to most hunters to be legally forced to pass up a large-antlered mature buck due to an inability to quickly access the number of points, or is it more dissatisfying to pass up a relatively small-antlered buck due to an inability to access whether a yearling or older?

With minimal instruction and experience, I believe it is easier to confirm a young buck vs an older buck, than it is to accurately count the number of points over an inch in length. And every time I've ever seen a mature buck, I sure didn't have to wonder whether he was a yearling or not, although seldom have I had adequate opportunity (on mature bucks) to accurately conclude how many antler points they might have before I killed them.

A carry-over from times past regarding what an average hunter might consider a "trophy" has to do with antler "points" --- specifically the thinking that a "9-pointer" is a better "trophy" than an "8-pointer". But I do not believe most deer hunters today consider an average 2 1/2-year-old 9-pointer even close to the "trophy" aspect of an average 4 1/2-yr-old or older 8-pointer.

Part of why someone might assume as to which is better has to do with how the question is asked. If I ask would you rather kill an 8-pointer or a 9-pointer, everyone answers "9-pointer". But if we show a picture of an average 2 1/2-yr-old 9-pointer beside and average 4 1/2-yr-old 8-pointer, nearly all would consider the older buck to be the greater "trophy".

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#595952 - 02/02/08 05:43 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Wes Parrish]
megalomaniac
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Wes,

I really think it 'would be that hard' to impose a 3 1/2 yr old limit on the average hunter.

It stinks management decisions are made as 'dummed down' restrictions that are easy to follow, but it's still better than nothing.

Or you could simply put the 3 1/2 yr old restriction on PI, and impose a $1000 fine for any deer not making the required age limit, and let the hunter keep the deer. But I doubt the general public would let that one fly.

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#595976 - 02/02/08 06:04 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: megalomaniac]
Wes Parrish
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 Originally Posted By: megalomaniac
Wes,

I really think it 'would be that hard' to impose a 3 1/2 yr old limit on the average hunter.

By no means did I mean to imply that.
Although, I think it's great that many hunters are voluntarily deciding they don't want to target bucks any younger than 3 1/2.

Trying to say . . . .
If we replaced most antler restrictions currently in use on most public WMA's (that have ARs) with a simple change to simply disallow yearling bucks from harvest (just on the WMA's with ARs) . . . .
Would we be increasing both overall hunter satisfaction and herd health (on these specific WMAs)?

I was trying to say:
All 2 1/2-yr-old bucks would be legal;
While no yearling bucks would be legal (on WMAs with antler restrictions) --- instead of their current antler restictions, which are causing both the best-antlered yearling and best-antlered 2 1/2's to be killed at a higher rate than they would be killed if there were no antler restrictions on these WMAs.

One of the biggest pitfalls of most "reasonable & simple" antler restrictions is they disallow the legal harvest of many mature bucks, actually progressively increasing (high-grading) the numbers of mature bucks that will never be legal for harvest as long as the antler restrictions stand alone as the criteria for "legal" bucks. And while more research may suggest buck deer get most of their antler genetics from their mommas, to what extent they may get their antler genetics from their dads, the antler restrictions being used on our WMA's are selectively breeding for progressively smaller antlers and/or antlers with fewer points.

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#595993 - 02/02/08 06:13 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: megalomaniac]
BSK
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Wes,

You made a good point about how much more quickly you can assess a mature buck over a young buck by body conformation that to count the points on a mature buck.

As I say all the time, "You will know a shooter when you see one." And I mean that literally. Of all the bucks 3 1/2 and older that I've killed, I knew at the instant of first glance that they were a shooter. And that's not from looking at their antlers. I just took a glance and a knew they weren't a young buck the instant I saw them. They simply have a different "pressence."

When I glanced over my shoulder and saw the mature buck I killed this year, I don't conciously remember looking at his antlers, although I knew he had decent ones (quite a bit of antler over his head). But I do remember seeing that massive chest walking straight towards me. The adrenaline rush was so instantaneous that I actually felt a physical jolt run through my body like an electric shock. My entire body physically flinched. Even as he walked past me at only 20 yards and I was lining him up in a 3X scope, all I knew about his rack was that he was at least a decent 8-pointer. I had no idea until I had my hands on his antlers that he was a mid-150s 13-point. In fact, before I climbed down out of my stand to go look for him I told my brothers and brothers-in-law over the radio that I thought I had just shot a mature mid 120-class 8-point. I got the antlers WAY wrong, but I didn't get the general age wrong.

Even though I pulled the trigger on that buck at only 20 yards, if I had been hunting Presidents Island, I would not have pulled the trigger. I didn't know he had more than 8 points.
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"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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#596005 - 02/02/08 06:23 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: BSK]
Wes Parrish
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 Originally Posted By: BSK
When I glanced over my shoulder and saw the mature buck I killed this year, I don't conciously remember looking at his antlers . . . . . But I do remember seeing that massive chest walking straight towards me. The adrenaline rush was so instantaneous that I actually felt a physical jolt run through my body like an electric shock. My entire body physically flinched. Even as he walked past me at only 20 yards and I was lining him up in a 3X scope, all I knew about his rack was that he was at least a decent 8-pointer. I had no idea until I had my hands on his antlers that he was a mid-150s 13-point . . . . . . I got the antlers WAY wrong, but I didn't get the general age wrong.

Even though I pulled the trigger on that buck at only 20 yards, if I had been hunting Presidents Island, I would not have pulled the trigger. I didn't know he had more than 8 points.

Bryan, you did a great job of making the point of what I've been trying to say.
It's easier to quickly identify an older buck than it is to count points.
And can you imagine the "hunter dissatisfaction" if the rule was you had to count each of that buck's antler points before you pulled your trigger?
Even though he was a massively-antlered MATURE buck, you'd probably have let him walk just because you didn't have time to accurately count.

Mature bucks, when they present, may give you plenty of time to realize what they are, plenty of time to make the shot, but no time to count points.

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#596011 - 02/02/08 06:30 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Wes Parrish]
BSK
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Either I made a good point or I just let everyone know how bad my eyesight really is!

At nearly point-blank range I thought THIS was a mid-120 8-pointer:



...but then in my defense, I only saw him clearly broadside.
_________________________
"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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#596364 - 02/02/08 09:58 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: BSK]
Wes Parrish
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BSK, I can certainly see why at first glance, your buck appeared to be a mature mainframe 8-pointer. And can also see why you said "BANG", before even caring how many "points" that buck may or may not have had, and doubt you even care much now either --- just happy to kill a mature buck, period.

 Originally Posted By: baller_9
Wes...I'm not disagreeing with you but what makes you think that antler restrictions cause the best 2 1/2 antlered bucks to be killed at a higher rate? And that these areas would have more superior bucks without the restrictions?

If there is not an antler restriction in some of the WMA's than many hunters would be happy with any buck that came by. With it being on public land hunters are going to be a lot more trigger happy knowing that there might be a another hunter on the next ridge.

In my opinion without the antler restrictions there wouldn't be so many of the top end 2 1/2 yr old bucks and than the few that go on to 3 1/2 plus. I do not believe it would ever be a good idea to have a statewide restriction. However, in my opinion I believe that the restrictions on WMA's are a great asset and allow hunters to be more selective and at least giving bucks a chance to get some age.

I'm not saying I'm right but I would like to hear your response.

I'm not saying I'm right either, just would like to share some critical thought.

I think the antler restrictions on select WMAs may have served a good purpose. But is it time to make some changes, possibly with a focus more on a buck's age than his antlers?

Let's say you have 1,000 hunters hunting a particular WMA with no antler restrictions. Many will kill the first antlered buck they see, most commonly a yearling buck. So you are right, most antler restrictions do cause a higher carry-over of yearling bucks into next year's 2 1/2-yr-old cohort.

However, let's assume those same 1,000 hunters were under a "4 points on one side" antler restriction. Perhaps only 10% of the yearling bucks have 4 points on one side. But would you agree that THAT 10% is generally the best 10% of the yearling bucks? But with the antler restrictions, the other 90% are allowed to walk, and since the hunters are still in the woods hunting, they are going to kill a much larger percentage of that best 10% than they would had there been no antler restrictions.

Let's just think that with no antler restrictions, the hunters might have killed 70% of the best 10%. But with antler restrictions, they might kill 95% of that best 10%. In this assumption, the bottom line is there would be about 6 times (500% more) as many of the top 10% surviving another year WITHOUT antler restrictions.

I realize that in most realities, the difference could be more or less than with this assumption --- a big part of why I'm asking for input and thought from you and others.

And of course, at least on the surface, it appears more beneficial to simply have a higher percentage of the yearling bucks survive to become 2 1/2's. But what if the cost of more yearlings making it to 2 1/2 is far fewer of the largest antlered yearlings becoming 2 1/2's?

Carry it one step further. Again, with no antler restrictions the next year, the hunters would be more inclined to kill "any" antlered buck, again, it would be mostly yearling bucks. But WITH antler restrictions going into Year Two, this same group of hunters would be forced to again target the very best of the yearlings, and mainly the above average among the 2 1/2's.

By Year Three, with antler restrictions, wouldn't we have mostly and mainly only the smallest antlered of the original yearling (and 2 1/2-yr-old) bucks being most likely to survive to 3 1/2? Of course, to a large degree, this is true with or without antler restrictions. My belief is it is true to a lesser extent WITHOUT antler restrictions, and to even a lesser extent if hunters focus more on age (i.e. simply not killing yearling bucks) rather than focusing on antlers (i.e. "high grading" or killing off most of the best of the best young bucks).

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#596528 - 02/03/08 06:02 AM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Wes Parrish]
Radar
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I understand what you are saying ,Wes . I passed up what I believed to be a 3.5 year old 8 point this past season that stayed within bow range for 10 minutes , because it did not meet the antler minimum score for the property I was hunting .
His body was much bigger than the 2.5 year old 8 pt. that I had just passed up from the same stand , but his rack was only 115 class . He was very similar to the examples of 3.5 year old bucks BSK posted in his age class thread , in body and rack size .
With the poor mast crop this past fall , I think it will be even tougher for hunters to take bucks that surpass the higher antler score minimums set by many clubs this fall .

One problem I see in management by age class is the difference in neck size with a mature buck in early bow season vs. the rut when the neck swells up , making the body size appear much larger than during the early season .
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#596612 - 02/03/08 07:59 AM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Radar]
8 POINTS OR BETTER
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Wes,

I also understand what you’re saying. But look at PI 2006 data 80% of the bucks taken are 3 1/2 or older. I think if you took away the antler restrictions you would not get that kind of %. I still think the good 2 1/2 deer would be shot with or without the antler restrictions. I would not be for state wide antler restrictions, but would like to see an effort to educate hunters on ageing deer in the field with emphasis on taking old bucks.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I think the antler restrictions are working on some of the WMA's, but I would like to see something, other than antler restrictions, on a statewide bases to encourage and educate hunters ( myself included) to kill older bucks. JMO
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#596613 - 02/03/08 07:59 AM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Radar]
Wes Parrish
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 Originally Posted By: Radar
I understand what you are saying ,Wes. I passed up what I believed to be a 3.5 year old 8 point this past season that stayed within bow range for 10 minutes, because it did not meet the antler minimum score for the property I was hunting.
. . . . but his rack was only 115 class.

Yet, on this same property, a genetically superior 125-class 2 1/2-yr-old would have been considered a shooter?

 Originally Posted By: Radar
One problem I see in management by age class is the difference in neck size with a mature buck in early bow season vs. the rut when the neck swells up, making the body size appear much larger than during the early season .

That is true.
We should also note that due to a relative lack of buck movement in early bow season, and the fact that bowhunters are relatively few and short-ranged in weapon, this becomes less an issue.

Note that on public WMAs, as an alternative to antler restrictions currently in use, I have suggested only dissallowing yearling bucks from harvest, as yearlings are much more readily identified at all times of the year.


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#596629 - 02/03/08 08:10 AM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: 8 POINTS OR BETTER]
Wes Parrish
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 Originally Posted By: 8 POINTS OR BETTER
But look at PI 2006 data 80% of the bucks taken are 3 1/2 or older. I think if you took away the antler restrictions you would not get that kind of %.

First, there is probably no WMA in TN on which those who get to hunt it are as satisfied with the hunting as President's Island. But what role have antler restrictions played in that hunter satisfaction? And if those antler restrictions there have had little to do with the herd structure, might those AR's actually be causing more hunter dissatisfaction than satisfaction? Considering the balance of hunter satisfaction and good deer management, are there better alternatives than antler restrictions?.

IMO, the current antler restrictions have very little to do with the deer hunting opportunity at President's Island. There's a lot of older bucks there mainly due to a lack of buck hunting ---- one weekend a year, archery only. With only one weekend a year of bowhunting for bucks, would ANY antler restrictions make much difference to the buck herd structure?
I need to add that "technically speaking" bucks are allowed on all three of the annual weekend bowhunts at President's Island. But on the first two, only female deer and spike bucks are legal. Only on the 3rd weekend bowhunt each year have antlered bucks (other than spikes) been legal for harvest. So "practically speaking" there is only one weekend of archery-only buck hunting at President's Island.

But let's say due to the "9 points an inch or longer" rule that 80% of the bucks harvested are 3 1/2 years or older. Might this 9-point rule possibly also EXCLUDE 80% of the bucks from harvest that are 3 1/2 years old or older? As in, don't most bucks become and remain 8-point mainframes, even up until the point they die of old age?

In the case of President's Island, if only yearling bucks were disallowed, buck hunting remained one weekend annually, archery only ---- would the carry-over of bucks change much? Would hunter satisfaction be better or worse? Would the average mature buck become larger antlered on President's Island (and be legal for harvest) without the 9-pt antler restriction?

With no antler restrictions, but with yearling bucks being disallowed, would the new ability to harvest mature 8-point bucks displace/replace the current harvest of some of those genetically superior 2 1/2 and 3 1/2-yr-old 9-pointers? As a hunter, would you consider an average mature 8-pointer (let's say scoring 130), a better "trophy" than an above average 2 1/2-yr-old 9-pointer (let's say gross scoring 118)?

My thinking is there are different ways of accomplishing similar goals, maybe better ways to get even better results. In the case of President's Island, so long as the buck hunting is one weekend a year, archery only, 1-buck limit ----- would the deer herd structure differ much over time even if ANY buck (including yearlings) were legal for harvest?

The 9-point rule on President's Island does a great job of protecting yearling bucks; the drawback is it also disallows mature bucks from harvest that only have 8 points, or maybe more commonly, the hunter is unable to quickly ascertain 9 points in many hunting situations.

And, Alan, I'm not trying to come across as "criticizing" but rather to ask:
"Are there alternatives to antler restrictions that could both improve hunter satisfaction and improve the deer herd at the same time?"

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#596842 - 02/03/08 10:48 AM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Wes Parrish]
Mike Belt
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I'd have to say that IMO, the hunter satisfaction gained from PI has alot more to do with the opportunity to see first hand the massive amounts of sign from such a concentrated number of deer with many of them being fully mature and the possibility of taking one of them than it does with actually taking one. The perception of taking one is there but that 9 point rule has prevented most hunters from ever taking a shot. I wish they'd at least incorporate an and/or age along with point rule. If a hunter's willing to travel great distances to hunt PI late season with archery equipment he should be willing to learn to judge age on the hoof. I'd suggest 4.5+.
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#597002 - 02/03/08 01:51 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: ]
Radar
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 Originally Posted By: tndrbstr
Heck some people apparently can't even count the number of points on a buck, how could they be expected to age a deer on the hoof?


I agree with the concept of age restrictions like Wes mentioned , but aging deer on the hoof takes plenty of experience . I have seen experts mess up too .
Counting points is easier for most hunters , and it doesn't take a wealth of experience to count .
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#597088 - 02/03/08 02:54 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Radar]
megalomaniac
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Okay, Wes, I got you now...

I agree with you that any average hunter can be educated in 5-10 minutes on the difference between a yearling and everything else, so disallowing only yearlings on PI would be feasible. I though you were speaking of disallowing bucks until 3 1/2, and sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between 2 1/2 yr olds and 3 1/2 yr olds.

I also agree that most 4 1/2 and up bucks are fairly easy to distinguish based on body characteristics alone.

I bet the private clubs on PI are thrilled with TWRA's point restriction. I'm sure some of those 150" 8 ptrs are taken off those clubs every year. But PI is still an incredible hunting opportunity for the average TN deer hunter.

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#597155 - 02/03/08 04:03 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: megalomaniac]
Wes Parrish
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 Originally Posted By: megalomaniac
Okay, Wes, I got you now...
. . . . . any average hunter can be educated in 5-10 minutes on the difference between a yearling and everything else, so disallowing only yearlings on PI would be feasible.

Since these are "managed" hunts with TWRA personnel aging each deer anyway, it would seem no less feasible than requiring 9 points an inch or more in length. On a personnel level as a hunter, should I make an honest mistake and have my deer confiscated at the check station, I'd prefer it be because it was a yearling buck than because it was a mature buck with only 8 points.

 Originally Posted By: megalomaniac
But PI is still an incredible hunting opportunity for the average TN deer hunter.

Absolutely.
But does that experience have much if anything to do with the antler restrictions? Would it be even better without them?


 Originally Posted By: Radar
I agree with the concept of age restrictions like Wes mentioned, but aging deer on the hoof takes plenty of experience. I have seen experts mess up too .
Counting points is easier for most hunters, and it doesn't take a wealth of experience to count.

Again, in the context of this thread and comparing the current antler restrictions on just those WMA's (in TN) that are using ARs --- I am only trying to debate the merits of making only yearling bucks non-shooters in lieu of those current antler restrictions --- we are not talking about "aging" deer to any extent beyond "yearling" buck.

I would counter it doesn't take a wealth of experience (just minimal instruction) to identify a yearling buck either. In fact, I believe in most field situations while hunting, it is easier to identify a yearling than to count 9 points.

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#598193 - 02/04/08 09:34 AM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: ]
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
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 Originally Posted By: tndrbstr
Heck some people apparently can't even count the number of points on a buck, how could they be expected to age a deer on the hoof?


Estimating exact age is difficult, and even the best make mistakes. But I think what Wes was talking about was knowing the difference between a young buck and an old buck. That is MUCH easier than counting points. You will know it at a glance.
_________________________
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#598347 - 02/04/08 11:39 AM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: BSK]
Winchester
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I see the point and agree a yearling is easily identifiable by body type. However the 9 point rule also eliminates 95% of yearlings as well. Once the bucks reach 2 1/2 they are harder to differintiate from a 3 1/2 for the average hunter by body type, where the 9 point rule hasnt changed with age. I myself wish we could hunt by age, but for the majority of TN hunters ( which hunt maybe 2 weekends a year) its not feasible, especially if your limiting anything but yearlings, becomes way to complicated for most, especially on snap decisions.
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#598458 - 02/04/08 01:11 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Winchester]
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
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Except 9 points can be awfully hard to see too. Maybe it's because I focus on the body so much when buck hunting. But I often misjudge points (underestimate the total number until the buck is on the ground).
_________________________
"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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#598480 - 02/04/08 01:26 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: BSK]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19422
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 Originally Posted By: BSK
. . . . . I often misjudge points (underestimate the total number until the buck is on the ground).

Same here.

Personally, I honestly don't even care how many "points" a buck has --- unless I was on a place like President's Island with a 9-pt rule --- I wouldn't give a flying rat's [censored] whether the buck I decided to kill was an 8-pointer or a 9-pointer.

I normally am focused on age and gross antler mass.

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#598486 - 02/04/08 01:34 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: Wes Parrish]
BSK
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I couple of years ago, I had a 60 yard stare-down with a mature buck. He was looking (and facing) right at me. All I noticed was his massive chest and neck. I never even noticed he had a 5 1/2" drop-tine off one antler. How could you miss that with the buck staring right at you, and your staring at him through a 3X scope? Finding that drop-tine was a real pleasant surpise when I walked up on the downed buck.
_________________________
"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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#598734 - 02/04/08 04:48 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: BSK]
Radar
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The biggest bodied buck I have ever seen was following a group of does through a picked Cornfield up in Mi.
He looked like a cow compared to the does . A buck was killed by a car on the road nearby that field dressed at 235 lbs.
Up in Mi. there was no question when you saw a mature buck . They were so much bigger in body size than the other bucks .
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#599569 - 02/04/08 10:53 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: BSK]
gil1
12 Point


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 Originally Posted By: BSK
I couple of years ago, I had a 60 yard stare-down with a mature buck. He was looking (and facing) right at me. All I noticed was his massive chest and neck. I never even noticed he had a 5 1/2" drop-tine off one antler. How could you miss that with the buck staring right at you, and your staring at him through a 3X scope? Finding that drop-tine was a real pleasant surpise when I walked up on the downed buck.


Remember the double drop tined buck I shot a couple months ago? I knew there was something different about his headgear when I saw him, but I didn't know he had droptines until he was dead. I knew instantly that he was a shooter, and I never looked at his rack again. Thank Gawd because I would fall out of the tree hyperventilating if all I looked at was headgear. I thought he was an 8-pointer - he was an 11.
_________________________
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#755626 - 05/27/08 10:19 AM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: gil1]
AlanP
TWRA Biologist
8 Point


Registered: 10/02/02
Posts: 2486
Loc: Tennessee

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Wes,

I posted this on the other thread, before I realized you had begun a new thread.

 Originally Posted By: Wes Parrish
BECAUSE of antler restrictions, the best antlered 2 1/2-yr-old bucks are killed at a higher rate on President's Island WMA than they would be killed if there were no antler restrictions at all.


Wes,

I do not believe the data supports your contention. If you look at the age data for President's Island, (from the big buck hunts) I don't think you can make a case that the best antlered bucks are killed out at 2 1/2.


Age.....2 1/2.....3 1/2.....4 1/2....5 1/2+

Year
2001......0..........5.........0..........0
2002......1..........2.........3..........1
2003......2..........5.........3..........2
2004......1..........2.........3..........7
2005......0..........1.........3..........3
2006......1..........3.........3..........2
2007......0..........4.........1..........2

Out of 60 bucks taken on the big buck hunts, only five have been 2 1/2 years old.

 Originally Posted By: Wes Parrish

And even those places where the majority of yearling bucks are fork-horns or smaller, if they use antler restrictions, BECAUSE of those antler restrictions, the best antlered younger bucks will be killed at a higher rate --- leaving fewer of the best to reach the older age classes.


Again... Not at President's Island. Every yearling buck killed has been a spike. The 9-point rule has protected ALL branch-antlered yearlings. So far, the yearling harvests, on the spike buck hunts, have been:

......Yearling Spikes
2001.......6
2002.......2
2003.......2
2004.......2
2005.......2
2006.......1
2007.......1
_________________________
If you don't look at the teeth, you're guessing at the age.

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#755743 - 05/27/08 11:02 AM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: AlanP]
8 POINTS OR BETTER
10 Point


Registered: 08/15/07
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 Originally Posted By: AlanP
If you look at the age data for President's Island, (from the big buck hunts) I don't think you can make a case that the best antlered bucks are killed out at 2 1/2.


Age.....2 1/2.....3 1/2.....4 1/2....5 1/2+

Year
2001......0..........5.........0..........0
2002......1..........2.........3..........1
2003......2..........5.........3..........2
2004......1..........2.........3..........7
2005......0..........1.........3..........3
2006......1..........3.........3..........2
2007......0..........4.........1..........2

Out of 60 bucks taken on the big buck hunts, only five have been 2 1/2 years old.


Alan, have you got the scores of those bucks. I would love to see how the those different age groups compare in score from PI.
_________________________
" Some localities are willing to work for their sport, and have plenty. Others are willing merely to take what comes easy, and have little or none." - Aldo Leopold

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#755795 - 05/27/08 11:08 AM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: 8 POINTS OR BETTER]
AlanP
TWRA Biologist
8 Point


Registered: 10/02/02
Posts: 2486
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No. We did not score them. All we have is age, weight, number of points, main beam length, and beam diameters. Oh, and we have photos somewhere (If I can remember where the heck I stored them on the hard drive)
_________________________
If you don't look at the teeth, you're guessing at the age.

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#756344 - 05/27/08 04:01 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: AlanP]
AlabamaSwamper
12 Point


Registered: 06/03/04
Posts: 5115
Loc: Southern Wayne CO and NW Alaba...

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Alan,

I've been kinda planning on what hunts I'll put in for and it got me to thinking.............

What was the purpose of the "9pt" rule? On PI, maybe I can see it but what about the other WMA's this affects? Just wondering why and how you guys came up with that I guess.

Yeah, I'm bored.
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#756360 - 05/27/08 04:07 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: AlanP]
BowGuy84
10 Point


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Posts: 4904
Loc: Nashville, TN and Louisville, ...

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what if PI had a competensy aging test. That you had to pass in order to be elligable to be drawn. It wouldnt be hard, then if you passed the test and shot a 1.5 or younger you could be fined like shooting a buck that isnt up to specs on these outfitters land.

Yeah you couldnt just apply the first year (you would also have to take the test) but the test could carry over to subsequent years (like the priority points system). It would limit out the nonserious hunters, and anyone who really wanted to do it could easily pass...there is so much info out there on aging that anyone can learn to make the distinction between a 1.5 and older class buck.

The only down side to this is more of your lower end deer will be taken but if it is really about "hunter satisfaction" I think this would raise it over having to let good 8's walk.

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#756485 - 05/27/08 04:55 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: AlabamaSwamper]
AlanP
TWRA Biologist
8 Point


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 Originally Posted By: AlabamaSwamper
Alan,

What was the purpose of the "9pt" rule?


I originally set up the PI hunt regulations based on several assumptions (some of which grew from concrete data, some of which are still questionable).

1. Virtually no yearlings have 9 antler points in Region I, based on harvest data. (I think I have seen 2 in 23 years)

2. Many yearlings have 8 antler points in Region I. (I can't count how many I have seen)

3. The soils on PI are some of the best in the state.

4. Given excellent soils, the growth should come close to matching the genetic potential.

5. In areas of excellent soil, a spike yearling may be a spike because of his genetics.

6. A spike yearling (in excellent soils) may have less growth potential than an 8 point yearling.

7. A lot of breeding takes place in November.

Based on those factors, I set up the regulations as follows:

We have two spike/doe hunts in late October (before a lot of breeding takes place). We do this for two reasons, to cut down the number of does needing to be bred once the rut gets cranked up, and to remove spikes from the possibility of participating in breeding. (If a spike on PI is a spike because of "bad" genetics, we take him out before the rut)

We have no hunts in November. Again, for two reasons, to allow as much early breeding as possible without disturbance, and to allow big bucks the chance to pass on genes before hunters take them out. Since we have taken some does out in the October hunts, the remaining does should have no trouble getting bred early because there are fewer of them for the available bucks.

We have the nine point rule to give absolute protection to yearlings, and significant protection to many 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 year old bucks. It also limits the number of bucks taken annually. (My biggest fear was that we would set the standards too low and take too many bucks one year, and then have to wait several years for the buck population to rebound. I would rather have a small number of really good bucks taken every year.)

Another reason for the nine point rule is: On a hunt club, you can set a spread, or age, or neck-size, or whatever rule you want for your club, and if you screw up, the club members scold you, or fine you, or whatever. On a WMA, the rule is set in the law. If you screw up, you get a ticket, go to court, appear before a judge, get fined, and have the potential to lose your hunting equipment. On top of which, anyone with a hunting license can put in for the hunt, which means hunters of vastly differing experience levels can apply, from novices to tremendously experienced hunters. Not every hunter can judge age, or spread, or gross B&C score on the hoof, but most of them can count to 9.

The big buck hunt is in December, after a lot of breeding has taken place, but while the rut is still in progress. That gives hunters an opportunity to see single-minded bucks, ignoring the dangers in the tree stands, running all over the Island, chasing does. Since the bucks have had all of November to pass on their genes, the danger of taking "good" genes out is minimized. We also have the hunt in December to "disturb" late breeding, at least a little bit.

Whether or not the goals, successes, reasoning, methods, failures, or whatever aspect regarding the PI hunts anyone wants to discuss are perfect or not, is an open question. Anyone who wishes can criticize any aspect they wish. But, I will stand by my methods and reasoning because it is accomplishing the goals I set when I developed the regulations. If, or when, the goals are no longer being met, I will re-think the methods.
_________________________
If you don't look at the teeth, you're guessing at the age.

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#756498 - 05/27/08 05:01 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: BowGuy84]
AlanP
TWRA Biologist
8 Point


Registered: 10/02/02
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Loc: Tennessee

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 Originally Posted By: BowGuy84
... if it is really about "hunter satisfaction" I think this would raise it over having to let good 8's walk.


I wish everyone commenting on PI could talk to the hunters who have been able to participate in the "big buck hunts." I have. I assure you, the "hunter satisfaction" level is higher at PI than any other hunt I have been associated with. Ever. Anywhere. (Except maybe on the Ensley portion. That's a lot harder to hunt.)
_________________________
If you don't look at the teeth, you're guessing at the age.

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#756572 - 05/27/08 06:04 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: AlanP]
8 POINTS OR BETTER
10 Point


Registered: 08/15/07
Posts: 4090
Loc: Hardin, Co.

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Looks like to me its the best hunting in the state. And with 600 hunters on the waiting list, it looks like we need more places like it. I wish TWRA would try to buy more land in west TN like they have in East TN.
_________________________
" Some localities are willing to work for their sport, and have plenty. Others are willing merely to take what comes easy, and have little or none." - Aldo Leopold

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#756724 - 05/27/08 07:48 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: 8 POINTS OR BETTER]
RKenney
10 Point


Registered: 03/15/08
Posts: 3674
Loc: Maury Co.

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Question about the "9 point rule". If a hunter killed an 8 point
buck at PI that say scored 175 B&C, would he be fined and the
deer taken from him? In my years of deer hunting, I have seen
countless 8 pointers outscore 10 pointers.

I guess my point is...there are 9 pointers...and there are 9
POINTERS.

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#756746 - 05/27/08 08:09 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: RKenney]
AlanP
TWRA Biologist
8 Point


Registered: 10/02/02
Posts: 2486
Loc: Tennessee

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Each of the nine points must be a minimum of one inch long. It is a law under the WMA proclamation. If a hunter kills a buck that does not meet that minimum, he can receive a citation (ticket) with a court date. Depending on the situation, and the specific circumstances, he could be fined, pay court costs, lose the deer, lose his hunting equipment, and (if a judge decided to) lose an ATV, truck, or anything used to haul an illegal deer. (I'm not saying all of that would happen. It would be more likely to happen if the hunter did it and tried to hide it, or run. If a hunter brought the deer to the check station and said, "I screwed up," he would probably get off with just a fine and court costs. The point is: On a WMA, the rules have the force of law, as opposed to a hunt club's rules.) The reason for the 9 point rule was to protect all of the bucks needing protection, to meet the goals of a true trophy area, while keeping it simple so hunters don't become violators accidentally.

I understand there are big bucks which may go unharvested. And I understand that requires some level of sacrifice. We could have eliminated any need to sacrifice by using a 4 point rule and opening PI to rifle hunts. We could have killed a ton of nice bucks...for a year or two. Then we would have to wait another three or four years to get back to square one.
_________________________
If you don't look at the teeth, you're guessing at the age.

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#757285 - 05/28/08 07:42 AM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: AlanP]
AlabamaSwamper
12 Point


Registered: 06/03/04
Posts: 5115
Loc: Southern Wayne CO and NW Alaba...

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Fair enough Alan and thanks for the explanation. Very interesting to read why you did this on PI.

PI is the exception in Tennessee and a super place I'm sure. I'd love to just sit and video on that place during the rut.
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#760160 - 05/29/08 07:41 PM Re: AGE vs. ANTLERS on select TWRA-Managed WMAs [Re: BSK]
Boone 58
16 Point


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Loc: Food Plot

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cool
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