John's Journal...

Deer Hunting Can Be Too Rulified

Where Hunters Get These Highly-Restrictive Rules

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 take 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.

I wonder with all the rules on shooting older-age-class bucks if we’re not drastically reducing the number of hunters who will want to comeClick to enlarge into our sport if they can take lesser bucks.  How much good have we accomplished as deer hunters if we increase the size and the number of older-age-class bucks we’re taking and reduce the number of friends and more importantly, family members who continue on in the sport of deer hunting?

For instance, my son accidentally shot a sub-standard buck on a hunting lease where we hunted several years ago. The lease didn’t require him to pay a fine, but the members ridiculed him. Today he’s not as enthusiastic about hunting deer as in years past. In my opinion, the excitement of having the opportunity to take all the trophy bucks in the world can’t possibly equal my sorrow at having my son leave the sport of deer hunting.

“I’ve noticed that the fewer number of people on a hunting lease, generally the fewer rules, “ Murphy reports. “The more people on a hunting lease, generally the more rules. Rules are an evolution of necessity when many people hunt a property.

“The hunting club that fines and/or humiliates anyone who mistakenly shoots a button buck when he’s trying to harvest a doe soon will have a reduced doe harvest. Hunters only will shoot a doe reluctantly. When a rule like this interferes with good deer-management practices, you need to remove the ruleClick to enlarge. If your club has a repeat offender who shoots two or three button bucks a season, yes, something needs to be done. But we’ve discovered that some light-hearted ribbing, not in a mean way, is as good if not better than a severe fine to encourage hunters not to shoot button bucks.”

Murphy cites an example of a hunting club that had determined that its members needed to take 30 does off the property. However, because of the heavy fines imposed for shooting a button buck, that club only harvested 10 does.

“The hunting lease would have been far better off if it would have had three button bucks harvested, and all 30 does taken off the property than if they had no button bucks harvested, and only 10 does removed,” Murphy states. “You have to remember that about 70% of yearling bucks born on a property will move off that property by the time they are 1-1/2-years old. So, seven out of thClick to enlargee 10 button bucks that you’ve worked so hard to protect on your property probably will leave your land and live on someone else’s property. Hunters really shouldn’t beat themselves up over harvesting one or two button bucks when they’re attempting to take does.”

Dr. Grant Woods, well-known deer researcher, says, “I think there’s certainly some truth to the statement that we’re getting so rulified that we’re taking some of the fun out of deer hunting.  Some people are spending so much time riding tractors, planting green fields, making soil tests and managing deer that deer season is lasting so long because of these added responsibilities that the fun of hunting deer has been somewhat diminished. But on the other side of the coin, some people like to ride tractors, take soil tests and manage deer-things that don’t require as high a skill level as actually hunting the deer does.

“However, after you do all that work, and you can only take a buck that scores a certain number of points on Boone & Crockett (B&C) and has a freckle on his left ear, then I think we’ve taken some of the fun out of deer hunting. I’m all for restoring deer herds to a healthier state, but I’m not for managing a deer herd like domestic cattle.

“For the fellow who has 20 or 30 basket-racked 8 points, and now wants to grow food for deer and take a better quality buck, participating in some type of management program probably will keep him in the sport longer. But having to spend $20,000 or $30,000 on deer management and only getting to take one trophy buck every now and then probably won’t satisfy the average hunter.”

Tomorrow: The Rules Don’t Fit


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 4