John's Journal...

Deer Hunting Can Be Too Rulified

What Biologists Are Hearing from Hunters

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Perhaps deer hunting’s becoming too rulified with so many rules making the sport less fun for all of us. I’ve deer hunted all my life, as has my family. I went to the college I picked primarily because I belonged to a deer lease less than 15 minutes from my dormitory room. As far back as we have a family history, the men in our family always have hunted deer. That’s part of the reason I’ve examined the new idea that we all have to taClick to enlargeke monster bucks. I wonder if the resulting rules have made us lose some of the joy and fun that we once have delighted in while hunting deer.

Keith Guyse with Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources explains that, “We’re hearing a lot of reports from dissatisfied hunters about all the rules applied to hunting deer. For instance, if the majority of members of a hunting lease decide to manage for older-age-class deer and restrict the number of bucks a hunter can take, many times, the other hunters on the lease will simply drop out of the club. We biologists are also seeing hunters looking more carefully at the rules of leases before they join them. If the rules are so restrictive that they can’t harvest many deer, hunters just aren’t joining those leases, at least not in Alabama.”

In a state like Alabama where hunters legally can harvest a buck and a doe in a day, and take more than 200 deer in a season, more and more hunters have questioned why they’re paying $1500 to Click to enlarge$2500 a year each to belong to a lease where they only can take one or two bucks each per year.

“We’re seeing hunters become more concerned with all the rules that are being imposed on hunting deer,” Guyse says. “The rules that seem to be the most bothersome involve having to make judgment calls on a spread limit (how many inches a buck has between his main beams before you can take him). At 50 to 100 yards, or even at 30 yards, being able to tell the difference in whether a buck has 17 or 18 Click to enlargeinches between the main beams is extremely difficult. But if a hunting club says you can’t harvest a buck that has less than an 18-inch spread between its main beams, the hunter’s got a problem.

“Another problematic scenario occurs at dusk and dawn when a big buck with three measurable points on each side of his rack comes in close enough to take, but the hunter can’t tell if he’s got both brow tines or not, particularly if his lease has a rule that says, ‘Only bucks with 8 points or more can be harvested.’ Lease fines seemed like a good idea in the beginning to help promote better deer management. However, after a year or two of these fines, the fines and the restrictive rules often become more detrimental rather than helpful to keep people in a club. An honest mistake occasionally will happen, but should a hunter be penalized heavily financially for that mistake? I don’t think so.”

Tomorrow: What QDMA Has Learned


Check back each day this week for more about "Deer Hunting Can Be Too Rulified""

Day 1: The Real Story
Day 2: What Biologists Are Hearing from Hunters
Day 3: What QDMA Has Learned
Day 4: Where Hunters Get These Highly-Restrictive Rules
Day 5: The Rules Don’t Fit



Entry 425, Day 2