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.