charlie 01 wrote:I'm from Illinois and I oppose antler restrictions, but that's just me. I'm curious, what exactly are your antler restictions? And how many antlered deer are you allowed for archery deer hunting?
I see that you are passing on small bucks, what was the score of the last two years of bucks that you shot bow hunting? Are you a hunting family group, and if so, how many are in your party and how many of those harvested an antlered deer? I'm just trying to get an overall picture on how you and your's are doing with ARS personally.
With these days of trophy deer hunting, more hunters are passing on small bucks naturally, therefore makeing your study of records not as accurate as you would think. In other words, they are not passing on small bucks because of ARS, but by choice alone.
I look at this with a little different twist. With ARS, and in heavily hunted areas, and with hunters with limited hunting time having to pass on bucks that are unshootable, are going to shoot more does, therefore creating a lopsided doe to buck ratio that also could produce a smaller fawn crop than expected, and leading to smaller doe herds. This is very possible. I would have to wonder what your total deer (buck & doe) harvest is per hunter in the years before ARS and after. I seem to recall seeing posts last year about hunters complaining about seeing fewer deer sightings in your state. With ARS, I have to feel sorry for the young hunter who is unable to shoot his very first buck, and having to watch it walk on by. And then the meat hunter who is seeing small bucks but less, or no does, because more are being shot by frustrated hunters dealing with ARS. After all, how many chances does one get?
I doubt Illinois needs antler restrictions, but pressure on the deer herd in Pennsylvania is very different. With nearly a million deer hunters in PA carrying rifles for two weeks, 85% of our harvested bucks before AR were only 1½ years old, so I don't see how it can be shown that hunters were passing on small bucks by choice.
Antler restrictions require (in most WMUs) a buck to have at least four points to a side. That was the criterion most easily followed by most hunters.
Most of your specific questions are not relevant to my specific hunting habits, and one hunter's results are irrelevant to the whole picture. I hunt with bow, rifle and muzzleloader. I don't shoot a buck every season. Other than twice last season when I mentored my nephew, the only time I've hunted with a group in the last two years is opening day in New York -- if you can call that hunting in a group. We all go into the woods separately and come out separately.
Nowhere did I vouch for the accuracy of the numbers I presented. I simply distilled the only available numbers into a chart. Certainly they do not tell the whole story, but they are the only factual data available. They're not my facts; I'm only reporting them.
You mentioned that hunters with limited time to hunt are going to shoot more does. That is not what governs the doe harvest, and no one is complaining that AR has reduced the deer herd. I only mentioned the other facet of Pennsylvania's deer management program, which is Herd Reduction. We have deliberately, dramatically (and severely in some places) reduced the herd through higher antlerless allocations, not through AR.
You mentioned you "feel sorry for the young hunter who is unable to shoot his very first buck, and having to watch it walk on by." You don't need to feel sorry for them. Junior hunters (up to age 16) can shoot any antlered buck. Unlicensed mentored hunters younger than 12 can even have an antlerless tag transferred to them so they can shoot a doe. The kids actually have it pretty nice.