3 Point Antler Restriction in Vermont – What Would Happen?

After months of studying the numbers I’ve finally decided to write about my conclusions of what would happen if a 3 point per side antler restriction (AR) was implemented in Vermont. My wife is tired of me always sitting with my notebook full of notes and a calculator while we watch TV and talking about it in my sleep. She cares not what percentage of the buck population actually carries 3 or more points on a side no matter how many times I tell her.

Keep in mind that these are my own opinions and are not affiliated with anyone else or any organization. The reality is that determining the number of legal bucks under a new regulation, such as higher antler restrictions, is complicated and there are a ton a variables such as winter severity, predation, poaching, disease, hunter wounded deer, etc. that can widely affect the outcome of my study. However, I’m dumb enough to give it a shot, so here it goes…you can decided for yourself if my overview is worth anything. 

Ultimately, I wanted to understand a couple of things:

  1. If a 3 pt AR had been implemented in 2014 what would the harvest have looked like?
  2. How long would it take to restore current harvest levels? More importantly, could they be restored?

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2015 Vermont Public Deer Hearing

2015 Deer MeetingFor what it’s worth I decided to summarize my thoughts after attending the Public Deer hearing in Brattleboro, VT last night. Much to my surprise there were no deer at the meeting, just hunters who wanted to debate different ways to kill them. Who named it Public Deer hearing? Talk about false advertising. Thankfully I’m easy going and found the debate interesting, even if it was between biologists and hunters instead of a herd of deer.

The format for the evening was the same as last year. The meeting started off with a review of the moose and deer harvest reports followed by a short question time for people who needed clarification on some aspect of the reports. Next, a presentation was given on the proposed rule changes, followed again by questions for those who needed clarification. Then we broke into small groups to give our input on the proposed rule changes to the coming season. We were given 45 minutes for this and at the end of that time a group member summarized the group’s thoughts in front of the crowd and turned in the comment sheet all the thoughts were recorded on. Finally, the meeting closed with time for those in attendance to have the floor to themselves to speak their mind for two minutes if they so desired. Some rambled on for the longest two minutes I've ever experienced.

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3 Reasons to Implement a 3 Point Antler Restriction in Vermont

Big BuckLately I’ve read (and taken part in) a lot of jabbering about implementing a 3 point antler restriction (AR) in my home state of Vermont. Proponents of an increase from the current 2 pt AR bring many solid arguments to the table while opponents bring their own valid reasons. I fall somewhere in the middle of the argument. One thing I know is that, Lord willing, I’ll be hunting this fall and quite frankly, I could care less what defines a legal buck and what doesn’t. If it has to have at least two points on a side, fine.  At least three points? That’s OK too; I’ll look for one that meets the requirement and enjoy the hunt along the way. But one thing is for sure, I get a little tired of the proponents of the increase not owning up to the real reason they want it and instead hide behind “feel good” reasons for their arguments.  Here are a few of the reasons and my interpretation of them.

1. A 3 pt AR will create a healthier herd. My reasons for not trusting this argument are that the data collected by biologists on youth weekend and the first weekend of rifle season indicate that the herd is healthy already. On average, recorded deer weights are up over the last decade and deer numbers have rebounded quickly after harsh winters. If someone who uses this argument would define what they mean by a “healthier herd” perhaps I would have an easier time following their reasoning. Until then, I’ll read through the lines and just assume this argument is used because they really want BIGGER BUCKS.

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Vermont Hunter Survey

Spike HornAs a follow up to last weeks riveting article on Vermont Deer Management practices I've decided to ask 5 simple questions to gain a better understanding of how Vermont hunters feel about the spike rule. I love studying deer management practices but almost equally interesting is understanding the human element. It is a lot easier to manage a parcel of land when all the hunters have a singular goal, but in Vermont that is not the case. Some just want meat, some want any buck, and others just want big bucks. How do you feel?  

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The Spike Rule: Is it Working?

In 2005, the Vermont “spike rule” was passed as part of an effort to spare yearling bucks in order to shift the buck population from one dominated by yearlings to one with a higher proportion of older aged bucks (3.5 years). After nine years it’s time to study the numbers to see if it’s working. Today, I am playing devil’s advocate to challenge my own initial positive feelings about spike rule. To get started I’ll single out one chart that was published in the 2012 Vermont Whitetail Deer Harvest Report and provide some devils advocate style analysis. Here it goes… 

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