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13” spread rule #8348810 08/12/21 03:35 AM
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Last year was my first year deer hunting (all public land). I managed to harvest a doe in late November.
I didn’t have any “shootable” encounters with bucks but was just looking to get my first deer and put some meat in the freezer.
Every time I went out I was extremely nervous about having a buck cross my path and not being able to definitively tell wether the inside spread was wider than the “alert ears” or not.
I’ve watched tons of videos and seen many examples of different sizes of deer but I’m still hesitant about letting an arrow fly on a borderline deer heading into this season.

Is there any sort of advice or practice that could help with my recognition of the AR rule and give me more confidence heading into the woods this fall?

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8348827 08/12/21 04:15 AM
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Do not judge them from behind they always look bigger from the back. If in doubt let it walk.

Good luck


lf the saying "Liar, Liar your pants on fire" were true
Mainstream news might be fun to watch
Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8348930 08/12/21 12:08 PM
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For me...we have been on 13 inch rule for a long time...I think since 2007. Problem 1 for me..the longer I look ..the bigger the horns.lol The rule of thumb ..if outside ears it's legal. That may not always be right..If it's that close...let it walk. We have a 7 1/2 this year 10 pt...thick horns ..but not 13 in.s Last year a 10 pt with about 10 in. tines was shot ..the spread was not legal ..best I can tell. I saw this buck within 40 ft. I didn't shoot..but someone across the fence did. I see this a lot..hunters are not worried about getting caught. I want the narrow horn bucks off the lease but to break the law..I wouldn't do it ..at least on purpose. Be your own judge.

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: kmon1] #8348955 08/12/21 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by kmon1
Do not judge them from behind they always look bigger from the back. If in doubt let it walk.

Good luck


Yep, if I can't easily see space between the outside edges of the ears and inside edges of the spread, I let them walk.


Dan

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8348974 08/12/21 12:53 PM
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The best thing I can tell you is if you're having an internal debate as to whether it's legal or not, don't shoot. The desire to get that first buck can be strong, but it's just not worth the possible outcome to take the chance. Good luck this season!


[Linked Image] [Linked Image]
Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8348978 08/12/21 12:57 PM
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And if you're hunting in East Texas, don't think that any buck with heavy, thick antlers must be legal. I've seen some older bucks in East Texas with heavy antlers that had relatively narrow spreads. Always wait for the best angle to check and make sure.

Last edited by Texas Dan; 08/12/21 12:59 PM.

Dan

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8349009 08/12/21 01:14 PM
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Good rule of thumb, "if it's not obvious, don't shoot it"

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8349233 08/12/21 03:57 PM
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Best advise I received was from a Game Warden, if your not 100% sure then let it walk.

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Texas Dan] #8349250 08/12/21 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Texas Dan
And if you're hunting in East Texas, don't think that any buck with heavy, thick antlers must be legal. I've seen some older bucks in East Texas with heavy antlers that had relatively narrow spreads. Always wait for the best angle to check and make sure.


That goes for central TX as well. I took an 8 pt on my place several years ago, heavy bases, good brow tines, with a mature frame and huge neck. When I shot I was very confident he met 13" rule, and I was right - EXACTLY 13" with not 1/16th to spare. Lesson learned.

Edit - I found a photo for reference - this is what 13" looks like...[Linked Image]

Last edited by Dalroo; 08/12/21 04:21 PM.

Dalroo
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Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8349270 08/12/21 04:17 PM
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I've run into your problem during my first two seasons of hunting East Texas as the wider bucks all disappear or become nocturnal the minute the season starts and then the borderline guys are just too close to take a chance on. If in doubt best not to take the shot!

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8349285 08/12/21 04:27 PM
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One of my biggest pet peeves with TPWD is the fact that they have a 13" AR rule for the majority of the state, but when you draw a once in a lifetime 1% chance tag on a Public WMA, they magically change the rule to 14". PIA!!!

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8350037 08/13/21 04:45 AM
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Better to ask for forgiveness than permission… lol


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Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8350043 08/13/21 06:09 AM
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Had this guy last year. Big body. Tiny rack. Not even close.

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Last edited by Roll-Tide; 08/13/21 06:11 AM.
Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8350073 08/13/21 11:18 AM
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Congrats on your first deer !

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8350152 08/13/21 12:49 PM
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Best advise I can give from my years of hunting in an AR county, and others who have also is if you have doubt, then let him walk!

Ground checking might work if you were to get really good at it, but that defeats the purpose of what the 13" rule is all about!
If you don't have a chance at a better buck, then you are probably on the wrong lease!

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8350183 08/13/21 01:40 PM
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I hunted in an AR county for 8 yrs after having hunted 45 seasons before that. One thing you learn very quickly is patience and hunting from a stationary location is very important. It give you the time and to judge the deer. They are now hunting you. Using a pair of binoculars is very important and should be the first thing you grab to observe the deer. Sitting in a blind or in a makeshift blind gives you time to judge them better. The adrenalin rush of seeing a deer, then seeing it is a buck makes things even more difficult in a tense situation. Now you have judge that buck for point count or spread. To someone having hunting for many years it might be second nature....to a new hunter it might be overwhelming. Throw in low light and now the deer look bigger than they may actually be due to the adrenalin. This is very hard to do...but do not make a quick decision. Time needed to do this may not be on your side but you need to take the time to judge the buck. I learned 30 yrs ago to take a video camera with me to video the deer. I would age, score and judge bucks in the field then go home that night and review the video footage. I was amazed at how much smaller and/or younger the bucks looked on the TV screen than the did when I viewed the live in the field. There was no adrenalin, there was no time constraints, there was no rush to judge or shoot. After doing this for a year or so I learned how to judge deer much better. Now it is second nature when I see a deer. Everyone can focus on a deer....then go....rack.....buck....legal or not legal buck in an instant. Like many have said above if you have to second guess or analyze a buck to hard then for me he got a pass. If you can go out on evening or weekend drives in areas were you can view deer in a State Park, subdivision in town or a friends ranch so you can video them to learn more about them. Then go back home and judge them at home on your computer or TV. Also learn that deer vary in size from area to area, county to county or even from ranch to ranch in the same area. Ear size can vary greatly along with body size. By videoing deer you can soon learn what to look for and how to judge a deer for those key characteristics to help you. Going to a local taxidermist to view mounts from the local area can help you get a feel for ear size and ear tip to tip width on various mounts.


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Re: 13” spread rule [Re: stxranchman] #8350237 08/13/21 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by stxranchman
I hunted in an AR county for 8 yrs after having hunted 45 seasons before that. One thing you learn very quickly is patience and hunting from a stationary location is very important. It give you the time and to judge the deer. They are now hunting you. Using a pair of binoculars is very important and should be the first thing you grab to observe the deer. Sitting in a blind or in a makeshift blind gives you time to judge them better. The adrenalin rush of seeing a deer, then seeing it is a buck makes things even more difficult in a tense situation. Now you have judge that buck for point count or spread. To someone having hunting for many years it might be second nature....to a new hunter it might be overwhelming. Throw in low light and now the deer look bigger than they may actually be due to the adrenalin. This is very hard to do...but do not make a quick decision. Time needed to do this may not be on your side but you need to take the time to judge the buck. I learned 30 yrs ago to take a video camera with me to video the deer. I would age, score and judge bucks in the field then go home that night and review the video footage. I was amazed at how much smaller and/or younger the bucks looked on the TV screen than the did when I viewed the live in the field. There was no adrenalin, there was no time constraints, there was no rush to judge or shoot. After doing this for a year or so I learned how to judge deer much better. Now it is second nature when I see a deer. Everyone can focus on a deer....then go....rack.....buck....legal or not legal buck in an instant. Like many have said above if you have to second guess or analyze a buck to hard then for me he got a pass. If you can go out on evening or weekend drives in areas were you can view deer in a State Park, subdivision in town or a friends ranch so you can video them to learn more about them. Then go back home and judge them at home on your computer or TV. Also learn that deer vary in size from area to area, county to county or even from ranch to ranch in the same area. Ear size can vary greatly along with body size. By videoing deer you can soon learn what to look for and how to judge a deer for those key characteristics to help you. Going to a local taxidermist to view mounts from the local area can help you get a feel for ear size and ear tip to tip width on various mounts.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ up up up^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Great infor stxrm


High fence, low fence, no fence, it really doesn't matter as long as you're hunting!
Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8350331 08/13/21 03:43 PM
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We hunted Matador WMA two years ago, and took 3 bucks. All made the minimum with less than 1/2" to spare. My 11 pt was 1/4" outside legal, but I had to watch for 35 minutes in both glasses and spotting scope to finally make a decision. No where else in the country would you even have to worry about it!!

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Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8350394 08/13/21 04:24 PM
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Best advice is above: don’t shoot unless you’re sure. It’s tough especially for your first deer.
Good hunting!


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


Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8351132 08/14/21 02:08 AM
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I understand the rule, I don’t like it. It seems like it allows narrow racks to disproportionately breed and continue the bad genetics


5303

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: TXHOGSLAYER] #8351149 08/14/21 02:31 AM
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Originally Posted by TXHOGSLAYER
I understand the rule, I don’t like it. It seems like it allows narrow racks to disproportionately breed and continue the bad genetics


Nothing to be done about it. Ship has sailed
The way that all the ranches around DFW are being turned
to HF, i would imagine there's some changes to come
concerning the way we all hunt these days
Probably be a rich man's only game at some point
down the road

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8352262 08/15/21 03:19 PM
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Don't be confused by all the do this, and do that, because it's not that hard.
If the antlers don't extend past the ears of an alert deer standing and looking directly at you, just don't shoot if you have any doubt!
I've taught this to young first time hunters and never had a problem.

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8352381 08/15/21 05:11 PM
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Good deer Blank

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Danny_DeerVito] #8352470 08/15/21 07:39 PM
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My tip to add to this is be really cautious during low light conditions. If it is morning, it will get lighter. If it is at dusk, pass if you are not sure.

Re: 13” spread rule [Re: Brother Phil] #8352539 08/15/21 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Brother Phil
My tip to add to this is be really cautious during low light conditions. If it is morning, it will get lighter. If it is at dusk, pass if you are not sure.


Yes, "ground shrinkage" does exist. They often seem to lose an inch or two once you put a tape measure on them. Best to account for that before pulling the trigger.

Last edited by Texas Dan; 08/15/21 09:34 PM.

Dan

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