Antler point restriction for entire state may do more harm than good
One thing for sure about Michigan deer hunters is that they certainly are passionate about their sport. And vocal.
Their opinions on how to improve the deer herd and the deer hunting experience vary widely, and the latest proposal for antler point restrictions in the state has fired up the debate again.
This season, hunters in the northwest Lower Peninsula are subject to antler point restrictions that require them to shoot only bucks that have at least three points on one side of their antlers. The Lower Peninsula Deer Management Initiative proposes to expand that rule to the entire northern Lower Peninsula, while requiring that southern Lower Peninsula hunters shoot only bucks that have at least four points on one side. That expanded proposal is proving to be just as controversial as the northwest LP proposal – and implementation – has been.
While those who hunt private land with voluntary antler point restrictions report seeing more and bigger bucks, the jury is still out on how the restrictions would affect the herd on public land. And while proponents of antler point restrictions say it is better for the health of the herd, that isn’t something that has scientific backing, so far. If the Department of Natural Resources had good data on how these antler point regulations would affect the entire deer herd, it might mute the discussion a bit.
In spite of the great number of deer in the state, especially in the southern Lower Peninsula, many hunters don’t feel as if there are enough. If more does are killed and the overall population of deer is lowered, do we risk losing those deer hunters whose satisfaction may wane because they are seeing fewer deer?
Some hunters have said that instead of making antler point restrictions mandatory, the practice of shooting bigger-antlered deer should be voluntary and hunters could be educated to its benefits, if any.
In my opinion, that seems like a good way to go about it for now.