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Mar 25th, 2012
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If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? #6982171
12/04/17 05:08 PM
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It seems the most common belief that antler restrictions don't work is that they don't alter the genetic makeup of the herd. If this is true, then why do some people see them as bad for the sport. It's as if they're saying that something that has no impact must be eliminated, even though a majority of hunters have made it clear they're seeing better deer every season because of them. IMO, the most noticeable result of antler restrictions is what some are now calling the "Flatline Effect". After years of watching deer grow older, hunters are now seeing for themselves that bucks don't always grow increasingly bigger and wider antlers with more points.

So then, we're brought back to the issue of antler restrictions and their impact on the genetic makeup of the herd. If they create no impact, there is no reason to be concerned that flat lined deer are the ones most likely to pass on their genetics for longer periods, since these are the deer that will take longer to become legal. If fact, some of them may go totally nocturnal in later years before they become legal. But again, if antler restrictions don't alter genetics, is this any reason for concern?

I find myself somewhere in the middle of the debate. IMO, antler restrictions have made an impact and hunters are seeing better bucks as a result, but the jury is still out on their long term impact.

Last edited by Texas Dan; 12/04/17 07:13 PM.

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Spring, Texas
Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6982211
12/04/17 05:37 PM
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Dan, I could be wrong, but I don't believe ARs were implemented to improve genetics. ARs were designed to let deer have a better chance to reach maturity in counties where the mantra used to be "if it's brown it's down" and average age of bucks harvested was 1.5 years. In that regard, ARs have worked.

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6982269
12/04/17 06:18 PM
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I think AR's have worked. I do not believe they are altering the genetics. I am glad I don't hunt in an AR county.


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Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: fouzman] #6982278
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Originally Posted By: fouzman
Dan, I could be wrong, but I don't believe ARs were implemented to improve genetics. ARs were designed to let deer have a better chance to reach maturity in counties where the mantra used to be "if it's brown it's down" and average age of bucks harvested was 1.5 years. In that regard, ARs have worked.


Agreed. Antler restrictions were implemented simply to allow bucks to grow older.

The genetic issue appears to focus on opposing beliefs. One side claims harvest restrictions will never alter genetics to the point of impacting antler potential, while others (including myself) say not so fast. We already know that points-based restrictions led to high grading. Is it just a matter of time before we learn that width-based restrictions yields the same result given the increasing numbers of flat lined bucks?

Flat-lined bucks were not as visible under points-based restrictions. Now that width-based restrictions have made them obvious, should we keep protecting them?

Last edited by Texas Dan; 12/04/17 06:47 PM.

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Spring, Texas
Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6982298
12/04/17 06:44 PM
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I say whatever they are doing, on our place it is not really great. We have some really ugly messed up deer that may never get wide enough to harvest. What is happening is the deer that are wide enough are being shot leaving the ugly rack deer to breed the does. I would have tagged out opening weekend on one of our very ugly rack deer instead I shot an AR legal deer last week that was probably 3 1/2. It was this or shoot does which we don't have enough of as it is. I would love to eat ugly deer and let big deer get bigger, ARs are not necessarily helping us at our place.

Here is where they may be helping some. We have one of THOSE neighbors who built a huge blind right on the fence line with three windows looking out over our property and a feeder also right on the fence line. ARs may be slowing him down a little from shooting anything that crosses the fence. That is probably the good side of ARs, everyone is required to exercise at least minimum management practices.

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6982302
12/04/17 06:46 PM
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AR's have served their intended purpose. When we do see a mature buck on our place it's invariably right around 13". It's JMO but I honestly believe that the gene pool in our area is made up of bucks with a "high but narrow" trait as it relates to racks. We don't see all that many bucks so I'm fine with leaving things as they are with AR's. We will just have bucks that live their entire lives without getting much past 13".

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6982319
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Let's also not overlook the belief carried by biologists that spikes are the bucks with the greatest flat line potential. If this is true, hunters should re-evaluate their hesitation in taking them.

Last edited by Texas Dan; 12/04/17 06:59 PM.

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Spring, Texas
Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6982333
12/04/17 07:04 PM
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I will gladly shoot spikes! Not this years button bucks but a spike is hamburger!

We had a guy a few weeks ago shoot a really old spike with almost no teeth and only one nasty spike coming out of his head.

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6982655
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I know up north in MA, they shoot at anything brown and the difference can be seen by how under developed and small the deer are in most areas. They don't give them any time to mature and in zone 10, you can buy another antlerless deer permit every day for $5.00 and have 20 if you want since they never meet their quota for control. But the days of the big bucks up there are over and done with. They consider an antlered deer to be any deer with 1 antler measuring more than 3 inches long in a straight line. You either have to travel north or all the way out past Worcester and to the Berkshires to get something worth really shooting. Most of the hunters I know up there have chosen to hunt out of state and they go to upstate NY, PA, 1 hour north of the NH border and up to the old logging areas on the top border of Maine. In MA they have WMA's people can hunt on and there isn't any permit required or control of how many hunters can be in there at one time. So you never go hunting there on the weekends and you always make sure that you use a climbing tree stand unless you like being shot at with buckshot or slugs. We have a buck that consistently has a diamond shape rack that never has a legal spread every year up in Centerville and since there is AR up there, we will never be able to take it out of the gene pool. So we are going to start feeding them growth pellets, protein stuff mixed together to see if that helps get him to legal size. We have a lot of good size bucks up in the area right now and hopefully this cold front brings them back in.

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6982812
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ARs work to increase the average age of the herd 99% of the time

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: kyle1974] #6982822
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Originally Posted By: kyle1974
ARs work to increase the average age of the herd 99% of the time


No question. Back to original question Texas Dan. Do you think those regions have a prevalence of a "narrow gene", or are the better young deer STILL being killed due to ARs? After all, old habits die hard. I suspect it's the latter.

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: fouzman] #6983195
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Originally Posted By: fouzman
No question. Back to original question Texas Dan. Do you think those regions have a prevalence of a "narrow gene", or are the better young deer STILL being killed due to ARs? After all, old habits die hard. I suspect it's the latter.


In simple terms, there are those who fear that width is being shot out of the herd. Obviously, deer that achieve 13-inch or greater racks in earlier years are the first to go, while narrow-racked bucks are spreading their genetics far longer. But again, this is just a theory, even though tall and narrow seems to be fast growing trend.

Last edited by Texas Dan; 12/05/17 03:32 AM.

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Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6983209
12/05/17 03:31 AM
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Originally Posted By: Texas Dan
Originally Posted By: fouzman
No question. Back to original question Texas Dan. Do you think those regions have a prevalence of a "narrow gene", or are the better young deer STILL being killed due to ARs? After all, old habits die hard. I suspect it's the latter.


In simple terms, I fear that width is being shot out of the herd. Obviously, deer that achieve 13-inch or greater racks in earlier years are the first to go, while narrow-racked bucks are spreading their genetics far longer. But again, this is just a theory, even though tall and narrow seems to be fast growing trend.


So to add food for thought...if AR's can change the genetics as some have said on this thread, then culling can also change genetics. I have always thought that this argument has been one of the most interesting reads on the forum over the years but never related it to the AR argument.


Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: txshntr] #6983215
12/05/17 03:35 AM
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Originally Posted By: txshntr
Originally Posted By: Texas Dan
Originally Posted By: fouzman
No question. Back to original question Texas Dan. Do you think those regions have a prevalence of a "narrow gene", or are the better young deer STILL being killed due to ARs? After all, old habits die hard. I suspect it's the latter.


In simple terms, I fear that width is being shot out of the herd. Obviously, deer that achieve 13-inch or greater racks in earlier years are the first to go, while narrow-racked bucks are spreading their genetics far longer. But again, this is just a theory, even though tall and narrow seems to be fast growing trend.


So to add food for thought...if AR's can change the genetics as some have said on this thread, then culling can also change genetics. I have always thought that this argument has been one of the most interesting reads on the forum over the years but never related it to the AR argument.


The current spike rule is just that, a way to cull those deer that are most likely to be the flat line bucks with far less potential. Their early indication of lagging their peers is an indication of their poor, long-term potential. It is removal of spikes that is most important in reducing the number of flat line bucks.

Last edited by Texas Dan; 12/05/17 03:38 AM.

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Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6983217
12/05/17 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted By: Texas Dan
It seems the most common belief that antler restrictions don't work is that they don't alter the genetic makeup of the herd. If this is true, then why do some people see them as bad for the sport. It's as if they're saying that something that has no impact must be eliminated, even though a majority of hunters have made it clear they're seeing better deer every season because of them. IMO, the most noticeable result of antler restrictions is what some are now calling the "Flatline Effect". After years of watching deer grow older, hunters are now seeing for themselves that bucks don't always grow increasingly bigger and wider antlers with more points.

So then, we're brought back to the issue of antler restrictions and their impact on the genetic makeup of the herd. If they create no impact, there is no reason to be concerned that flat lined deer are the ones most likely to pass on their genetics for longer periods, since these are the deer that will take longer to become legal. If fact, some of them may go totally nocturnal in later years before they become legal. But again, if antler restrictions don't alter genetics, is this any reason for concern?

I find myself somewhere in the middle of the debate. IMO, antler restrictions have made an impact and hunters are seeing better bucks as a result, but the jury is still out on their long term impact.


I think just about everybody believes ARs work, it is just that they don't work properly because they DO negatively effect the genetics of the herd.


Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6983250
12/05/17 03:57 AM
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Originally Posted By: Texas Dan
Originally Posted By: txshntr
Originally Posted By: Texas Dan
Originally Posted By: fouzman
No question. Back to original question Texas Dan. Do you think those regions have a prevalence of a "narrow gene", or are the better young deer STILL being killed due to ARs? After all, old habits die hard. I suspect it's the latter.


In simple terms, I fear that width is being shot out of the herd. Obviously, deer that achieve 13-inch or greater racks in earlier years are the first to go, while narrow-racked bucks are spreading their genetics far longer. But again, this is just a theory, even though tall and narrow seems to be fast growing trend.


So to add food for thought...if AR's can change the genetics as some have said on this thread, then culling can also change genetics. I have always thought that this argument has been one of the most interesting reads on the forum over the years but never related it to the AR argument.


The current spike rule is just that, a way to cull those deer that are most likely to be the flat line bucks with far less potential. Their early indication of lagging their peers is an indication of their poor, long-term potential. It is removal of spikes that is most important in reducing the number of flat line bucks.


Culling only works if you have the tag numbers and continued ability to hammer down with out restraint for years on end.....

There for spike tag is an appeasement tag to get the greater good of AR’s passed. So more less the tag is Lessor of evils or irrelevant practice for day.

AR’s work for designed propose which is increasing age structure but I personally think all management decisions should be left to landowner. AR system is to broad based and generic and has minimal harvest data supporting it across all counties.

Closet thing we have to perfection is MLD program. True scientific based program fitted to that specific property

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6983319
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Does should maintain whatever your baseline is, regardless of what you shoot, unless you kill all of them off too.

Ex: you have areas like the Gunnison basin have indiscriminate winterkills. Twice in a decade estimated 80% of bucks were taken by Winter. Does aren’t hit has hard. It’ll bounce back with studs just like it always does.

Last edited by rifleman; 12/05/17 05:33 AM.
Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6983331
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I support AR restrictions 99 percent of the time. It has helped where I hunt and see much more 1.5 and 2.5 year old deer that would be down otherwise.

The one exceptions if there was some type of waiver you could apply for relating to a mature deer not meeting AR.

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Roll-Tide] #6983473
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Originally Posted By: Roll-Tide
I support AR restrictions 99 percent of the time. It has helped where I hunt and see much more 1.5 and 2.5 year old deer that would be down otherwise.

The one exceptions if there was some type of waiver you could apply for relating to a mature deer not meeting AR.



I could go for that too - workability would probably preclude it though.



ARs work. “Leaving all management decisions to the landowner” was what we had before ARs. The vast majority of the landowners were making poor “management” decisions (as in no management at all) - and the proof was in the pudding. Which is why ARs were necessary in the first place.

I don’t think they are or will change genetics. I do think there are certain areas where bucks trend narrow anyway - and ARs are particularly tough on those areas.

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Nogalus Prairie] #6983511
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Originally Posted By: Nogalus Prairie
Originally Posted By: Roll-Tide
I support AR restrictions 99 percent of the time. It has helped where I hunt and see much more 1.5 and 2.5 year old deer that would be down otherwise.

The one exceptions if there was some type of waiver you could apply for relating to a mature deer not meeting AR.



I could go for that too - workability would probably preclude it though.



ARs work. “Leaving all management decisions to the landowner” was what we had before ARs. The vast majority of the landowners were making poor “management” decisions (as in no management at all) - and the proof was in the pudding. Which is why ARs were necessary in the first place.


May work for you if you are focusing only bucks but if it’s causing a massive decline in your doe population because it changed county regulations, via politics and not science, then that could be a problem. It’s currently a blanket program well at this point a political program. It’s funny how you call “ no AR’s” as being no management at all when the largest deer in Texas come from non AR counties.

Thankfully we have a MLD program that puts scientific based management power back into landowners hands.




Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6983524
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I did not at all call “no ARs no management”.

What I said was that most landowners pre-ARs were not practicing any management. Which is the fact. And which is why going back to the way it was would be a huge mistake. You assume that ALL landowners are responsible managers for WTs. Your assumption was, and is, incorrect.

My words are about AR areas. I am not discussing other areas.


Originally Posted By: Russ79
I learned long ago you can't reason someone out of something they don't reason themselves into.


Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6983528
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Guys that have and do manage over here love ARs. Because it’s the first time they’ve actually gotten some “neighbor help” along with their own management in the vast majority of the cases.

If one doesn’t see the difference ARs have made over here by looking at what’s been coming out of here in the past several years vs. before, one is blind.

ARs are pretty much lauded by everyone at this point as a great decision. Not perfect, but still great. Not many programs in any area you can say that about.

And issues with doe limits are not issues with ARs. Does don’t have antlers.


Originally Posted By: Russ79
I learned long ago you can't reason someone out of something they don't reason themselves into.


Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Nogalus Prairie] #6983547
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Originally Posted By: Nogalus Prairie
I did not at all call “no ARs no management”.

What I said was that most landowners pre-ARs were not practicing any management. Which is the fact. And which is why going back to the way it was would be a huge mistake. You assume that ALL landowners are responsible managers for WTs. Your assumption was, and is, incorrect.

My words are about AR areas. I am not discussing other areas.


So what you are saying is now those mismanaging landowners now have more buck and doe tags at their disposal due to a blanket AR program....

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Nogalus Prairie] #6983550
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Originally Posted By: Nogalus Prairie
Guys that have and do manage over here love ARs. Because it’s the first time they’ve actually gotten some “neighbor help” along with their own management in the vast majority of the cases.

If one doesn’t see the difference ARs have made over here by looking at what’s been coming out of here in the past several years vs. before, one is blind.

ARs are pretty much lauded by everyone at this point as a great decision. Not perfect, but still great. Not many programs in any area you can say that about.

And issues with doe limits are not issues with ARs. Does don’t have antlers.


Really so the implementation of AR didn’t increase a lot of counties Doe tags...

AR are bad because they are a blanket program, if people want more restrictions then it should be based on a review of scientific yearly data.

Re: If Antler Restrictions don't alter genetics, why are they bad for the sport? [Re: Texas Dan] #6983562
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I said what I said. You can re-read it if it’s not clear.

Doe tags are not ARs. If you want to argue about those, fine. It’s not really a big issue in the vast majority of areas. In those where it is, it can be changed without changing ARs.

Bottom line is this: ARs are not perfect, but overall things are a helluva lot better over here since ARs came along. In all metrics. You can type all you want, and it won’t change that fact. Going back to the way it was would be stupid, and almost anyone at this point knows that.


Originally Posted By: Russ79
I learned long ago you can't reason someone out of something they don't reason themselves into.


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