Abstract

Title:  Effects of Antler Restrictions on Buck Harvest, Recruitment, Quality and Hunter Success.
Author(s): James F. Gallagher, David R. Synatzske, and Chris Mostyn – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Year: 2005
Abstract: The Chaparral Wildlife Management Area (Chaparral WMA) has offered public deer hunting since 1969. From 1969 through 1994, efforts were made to balance the population with the available habitat, and to maintain the sex balance, no effort was made to control what age or type of bucks were harvested. Managers were concerned that harvesting under these conditions was leading to "high-grading" of the buck population. Beginning in 1995, Area managers were given the authority to increase the bag limit to two bucks. At the same time, several Area managers started to implement buck harvest restrictions. Progressively restrictive requirements were put into place from 1995 (two buck limit, the second buck harvested have less than eight antler points) through 2003 (one buck with eight or more points and at least a 16 inch inside spread, and a second buck with six or less points and at least a 12 inch inside spread). Total bucks observed in the annual helicopter count on the Chaparral WMA, number of mature bucks observed, total buck harvest, and mature buck harvest declined 1984-1994, but increased 1995-2003. Hunter success, however, increased 1984-1994, while declining from 1995-2003. The gross Boone and Crockett scores of "trophy bucks", those with eight or more points and at l east a 16 inch inside spread, declined from 1991-1994, while increasing from 1995-2003. Preliminary results from the Chaparral WMA indicate that harvest restrictions on bucks, based on antler criteria, can be effective at increasing the number and quality of bucks available in the population and in the harvest.

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