Abstract

Title:  Is the 3-point Antler Restriction in Arkansas Producing Bucks with Higher Quality Antlers?
Author(s): Don White, Jr. - University of Arkansas and M. Cory Gray - Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Year: 2008
Abstract: In 1998, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission implemented a 3-antler point restriction (3APR) statewide to increase the survival of yearling bucks and improve recruitment of bucks into older age classes. It was assumed antler quality of harvested bucks would subsequently increase as the number of older bucks in the population increased. Although antler-based harvest criteria are widely used in the southeastern U.S., their effectiveness in achieving management objectives is typically not well studied. In this study, we quantified the effects of the 3APR on age composition and compared cohort antler quality of bucks harvested before implementation of the 3APR (1981-1997) and after implementation (1999-2006) within 4 physiographic regions in Arkansas: Ozark Highlands, Ouachita Mountains, West Gulf Coastal Plains, and Mississippi Alluvial Plains. We used chi-square tests to determine whether proportions of harvested 1.5-, 2.5-, and =3.5-year-old bucks differed between time periods. Proportions of all age classes differed between time periods in all 4 regions. A 3-factor ANOVA of the effects of region, age class, time period, and their interactions on mean antler quality showed antler quality within region, age class, and time period was not the same. Antler quality within region and age class was dependent on time period. Antler quality within region was independent of age class, however. Mean antler quality in all regions differed by age class. The 3APR in Arkansas seems to be achieving the management objectives we studied. We suggest, however, that these results be viewed with caution. Harvest data are potentially biased; they may not accurately reflect standing herd composition.

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