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12 years of AR #8350444 08/13/21 05:00 PM
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I believe this begins the 12th year of AR’s in my county. From my perspective it has been a total bust. We have a relatively small property but are surrounded by much smaller properties. We’re now more than a deer generation removed from these changes. The results for me have been more mature deer, but they have inferior antlers. Any wide buck is killed the minute it hits 13 inches. It used to be common for me to see bucks 16-18 inches wide (with the widest I’ve taken being 22 inches) but those have now become unicorns. However, I am overrun with narrow bucks, most of which would never hit 13 inches.

I’m curious what others have experienced. It’s bad enough that I haven’t really cared much about hunting our place the last two years. After running cameras for the first time this year, I have zero excitement about the upcoming season.

I’m in Wise County for what it’s worth.

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8350451 08/13/21 05:04 PM
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seems to me, with AR laws, wider bucks are taken, leaving narrow, taller bucks... those bucks then breed and pass on their narrow genetics... resulting in more narrow bucks..
confused2


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Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8350456 08/13/21 05:10 PM
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Sounds like your neighbors are thinning the buck herd, more than anything. When you get 1-2 mature bucks on 300-500 acres, and you split that 5-6 ways and get 1-2 hunters on each small property, you're probably lucky to see any buck deer. Would you say there is more hunting pressure now than when you started?

I know in Mills county they have worked well. We have more mature deer with larger racks than ever before. Now if we could just get the locals to reduce the doe population we'd be in better shape.


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Re: 12 years of AR [Re: TCM3] #8350462 08/13/21 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by TCM3
seems to me, with AR laws, wider bucks are taken, leaving narrow, taller bucks... those bucks then breed and pass on their narrow genetics... resulting in more narrow bucks..
confused2

That’s exactly what I’m experiencing.

We used to have a pretty good deer herd. We still have numbers, but quality has diminished greatly. I do believe the largest part of my problem is the neighbors. Most of them are hunting for meat, so I understand completely why they take what they do. They also over hunt their properties, but that’s they’re right.

I had considered high-fencing, but now wonder if that would be a waste of time and money as the genetics have seemingly diminished greatly already. I know I could stock it, but that doesn’t interest me. Frankly, I prefer hunting low fence (I hunt high fence elsewhere) as it just suits me better.

Development is getting closer, so that will likely make my decision for me in the next several years.

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks] #8350469 08/13/21 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by QuitShootinYoungBucks
Sounds like your neighbors are thinning the buck herd, more than anything. When you get 1-2 mature bucks on 300-500 acres, and you split that 5-6 ways and get 1-2 hunters on each small property, you're probably lucky to see any buck deer. Would you say there is more hunting pressure now than when you started?

I know in Mills county they have worked well. We have more mature deer with larger racks than ever before. Now if we could just get the locals to reduce the doe population we'd be in better shape.



The buck heard isn’t thin, it’s just diminished quality. Because of the pressure around us, a lot of animals get pushed onto our place. With 450 acres, I saw 6 mature bucks last year (4.5 years old or older) but none were very impressive. There was one exception, but I had him on camera once during the rut and am sure he was just passing through.

Problem is even the younger bucks are unimpressive.

One thing I do have going for me is the ratio seems pretty good. I was overrun with does 5-7 years ago but that’s gone down greatly since then.

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks] #8350470 08/13/21 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by QuitShootinYoungBucks
Sounds like your neighbors are thinning the buck herd, more than anything. When you get 1-2 mature bucks on 300-500 acres, and you split that 5-6 ways and get 1-2 hunters on each small property, you're probably lucky to see any buck deer. Would you say there is more hunting pressure now than when you started?

I know in Mills county they have worked well. We have more mature deer with larger racks than ever before. Now if we could just get the locals to reduce the doe population we'd be in better shape.


This is what I am seeing. We had quite a few bucks that were legal, but we wanted to see them gain another year. However, we also have new neighbors and more hunters now than we had before. Many of those bucks disappeared in Nov/Dec, never to be seen again. Hunting pressure is killing our wide bucks, not AR's.


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Originally Posted by TurkeyHunter
And make Kamila president

She’d just end up blowing it......
Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8350472 08/13/21 05:21 PM
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The AR rule in Eastland county has been spectacular, this is the best thing TPW has done for Eastland county hunters!


Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8350484 08/13/21 05:30 PM
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30 minutes north of College Station. Thank you ARs

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Re: 12 years of AR [Re: unclebubba] #8350490 08/13/21 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by unclebubba
Originally Posted by QuitShootinYoungBucks
Sounds like your neighbors are thinning the buck herd, more than anything. When you get 1-2 mature bucks on 300-500 acres, and you split that 5-6 ways and get 1-2 hunters on each small property, you're probably lucky to see any buck deer. Would you say there is more hunting pressure now than when you started?

I know in Mills county they have worked well. We have more mature deer with larger racks than ever before. Now if we could just get the locals to reduce the doe population we'd be in better shape.


This is what I am seeing. We had quite a few bucks that were legal, but we wanted to see them gain another year. However, we also have new neighbors and more hunters now than we had before. Many of those bucks disappeared in Nov/Dec, never to be seen again. Hunting pressure is killing our wide bucks, not AR's.


Are you sure?

It’s always hunting pressure that takes animals. My perspective is that the hunting pressure was there all along, but AR’s forced it to target wider bucks, regardless of age. This resulted in smaller bucks getting to walk because they weren’t legal. However, young wide bucks were taken. Over 12 years, the inferior bucks have become common.

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8350608 08/13/21 06:52 PM
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I am typically a fan of AR.

The genetic conversation is interesting though. Our ranch is a low fence low pressure ranch surrounded by med-high pressure ranches. In 2020, we identified 74 unique bucks. Of the mature age class (5+) every deer was a legal deer. Of the 3 and 4 year olds every deer was a legal deer. Of the 2 year olds, there was a only one legal deer, and of the 1year olds there was not a legal deer.

We have a 2-1 doe/buck ratio, so assuming that wide 2yr old was shot by a neighbor and the 2-3 widest 3 yr olds as well, holding the bred does/buck constant at 1 to 1, you are seeing under 2% of the genetic potential of the herd lost. Not to mention you don’t know what the genetics of the doe those wide deer are breeding with is. Given the fact that the single legal 2yr old is an outlier for width at that age and not representative of the herds genetics, I have a hard time believing it would have a significant Impact on the long term herd genetics. Not to mention width is only one aspect of a bucks score. I don’t think any of the widest 3yr old deer we have seen are the highest scoring of the herd.

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: Pope&Young] #8350617 08/13/21 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Pope&Young
The AR rule in Eastland county has been spectacular, this is the best thing TPW has done for Eastland county hunters!


Agree


lf the saying "Liar, Liar your pants on fire" were true
Mainstream news might be fun to watch
Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8350624 08/13/21 07:04 PM
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One of the reasons I like to take does.

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8350661 08/13/21 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by KennyLee
I believe this begins the 12th year of AR’s in my county. From my perspective it has been a total bust. We have a relatively small property but are surrounded by much smaller properties. We’re now more than a deer generation removed from these changes. The results for me have been more mature deer, but they have inferior antlers. Any wide buck is killed the minute it hits 13 inches. It used to be common for me to see bucks 16-18 inches wide (with the widest I’ve taken being 22 inches) but those have now become unicorns. However, I am overrun with narrow bucks, most of which would never hit 13 inches.

I’m curious what others have experienced. It’s bad enough that I haven’t really cared much about hunting our place the last two years. After running cameras for the first time this year, I have zero excitement about the upcoming season.

I’m in Wise County for what it’s worth.


This is my experience as well and we are in Jack County.

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8350695 08/13/21 07:52 PM
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I am not a fan of it in my part of Mills County, although I am in favor of it for other counties. We had better bucks prior to AR being passed. Too much pressure on one segment of the herd....13"+ bucks. None of the junk gets taken with the single buck tag allowed for 13+. It has been very frustrating. Just my two cents after owning for 13 years and intensively managing my place.

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8350733 08/13/21 08:19 PM
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Low fence Coryell County.

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Re: 12 years of AR [Re: Texan Til I Die] #8350743 08/13/21 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Texan Til I Die
Low fence Coryell County.

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Awesome deer! up


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Re: 12 years of AR [Re: tbgascorer] #8350792 08/13/21 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by tbgascorer
I am not a fan of it in my part of Mills County, although I am in favor of it for other counties. We had better bucks prior to AR being passed. Too much pressure on one segment of the herd....13"+ bucks. None of the junk gets taken with the single buck tag allowed for 13+. It has been very frustrating. Just my two cents after owning for 13 years and intensively managing my place.


TB, how much 'junk' are you seeing that is leftover? Does your part have heavy pressure? If you look through old copies of the Eagle, 30-40 years ago there were pics of kids with 4pt yearling bucks, sometimes multiple bucks of that size. Today, the pics are of kids with 10-12 pt deer with 17"+ spreads. As a youth in Mills county I can count on one hand the number of ten point bucks I saw in the wild. I didn't kill my first true 10pt until my 33rd year of hunting. Just this spring I found 4 sheds from different 10pt+ bucks that made it through the winter on our place.


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Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8350939 08/13/21 10:56 PM
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We have a lot of leftover junk and a good percentage of mature deer that reach very old age. They are either less than 13” or just really undesirable. I’m lucky to watch some for many years. We’ve always had a lot of pressure and I know that has some effect. I see other parts of the county producing much better deer. Initially , I was excited for the AR’s having seeing first hand the good things it was doing statewide , but more importantly , neighboring Hamilton and Bosque counties. It was like someone flipped a switch on our deer herd. It’s been hard honestly, to watch the decline knowing how much effort we’ve put into management. I know what you’re saying about youth, the Eagle, etc. Again, I see other parts of the county benefiting from it as well.

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8351005 08/14/21 12:08 AM
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For everyone claiming this is hurting their genetics, do you have any pictures of these "old, inferior deer?" Its been a blessing for East Texas, now we just need less 20 acre tracts with 15 people hunting it.

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8351023 08/14/21 12:30 AM
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Not a fan of antler restrictions of any type put forth by the state. You have a tag and what you decide to hang the tag on should be up to you and nobody else. If you want a big buck, hunt for it and turn down anything you don't want. Your choice. If someone has limited time to hunt and wants meat for the freezer then the antlers aren't important to them and they should be able to take the buck they want. One person should not be able to dictate to another person that deer they should take. Now I will put a disclaimer that a landowner can do what ever they want on their property and can also require people hunting their land to do accordingly. My comments are directed at the guy that owns land and wants to simply take a buck or the guy hunting public land.

Just because some hunters want big antlers on the wall does not mean others do and they should not be restricted to please the other guy.


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Re: 12 years of AR [Re: kmon1] #8351040 08/14/21 12:41 AM
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Originally Posted by kmon1
Originally Posted by Pope&Young
The AR rule in Eastland county has been spectacular, this is the best thing TPW has done for Eastland county hunters!


Agree


I will say the same for Stephens County at least where I am at. I have owned this place 41 years. The first 30 years the hunting sucked. Some does and few bucks. Over the last few years numbers of bucks and rack size has improved every year. I think I am lucky to have good neighbors and decent genetics. I seldom see 1 1/2 year old bucks that are not fork horns or better. I do understand why some would not care for AR especially if the genetics are bad.

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8351045 08/14/21 12:43 AM
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Some great deer fellas

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8351048 08/14/21 12:45 AM
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It made a huge difference in the western part of Goliad County where I used to own a place. The county WMA started way before I bought my place but I bought in 2012 and owned till this year. The deer herd in and around my place continued to improve. I had some deer that were borderline for a year or two then they all became legal...all of them were shot or died during the rut. The quality of bucks continued to improve even with a lot of hunting pressure to my south and NW. I was able to kill my biggest buck in the 9yrs I owned the place....I killed him last year in archery season.. I hunted another buck the year before that I watched for 3 yrs and he would have gone around 150 give or take a little. He was under 13" at 3, then at 4 and 5 was over 16.5"-17" inside. Any wide deer that I saw or had on cams was killed when they hit 4 or older on age. Some made it to 5 or 6. Width was not very common in that area. Most deer were narrow, tall tined with big brows. Some of the bigger deer were 8 pt frames. The AR's made a big difference in overall deer numbers. My area of the county had limited doe harvest, even in the WMA it was one doe per 200 acres for MLD permits. 2 does in archery was good but none of my neighbors were shooting many does at all. The buck doe ratio went from 1 buck to under 2 does the first year to less than 1 doe per buck the last 3 yrs. My area of the county was supposed to be at a deer to 17 according to WMA surveys...I was more like a deer to 7 acres. One year I saw on cams or in person 48 different bucks on 234 acres....all but 5 of them made it to the next season. Not all those bucks lived on my place but they used it at different times of the year. Some stayed for 2 or 3 yrs if they were new. I had an 900 acre open cattle pasture to my west....2 -125 acre smaller place to my NW, 346 acres to my north and then a man who bought several ranches to my south, so he accumulated over 3500 acres adjoining me. They hunted hard with family only and took a lot of bucks...but they took mainly 4 yr old or older bucks from what I could tell.
If you have a lot of smaller places around you, it may not be the AR's that are effecting your quality now. WAG on my part would say they are shooting way more deer today than years ago. More hunters on those smaller tracts.


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Re: 12 years of AR [Re: KennyLee] #8351063 08/14/21 12:56 AM
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Good write up STx

Re: 12 years of AR [Re: Tonkagar] #8351066 08/14/21 12:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Tonkagar
For everyone claiming this is hurting their genetics, do you have any pictures of these "old, inferior deer?" Its been a blessing for East Texas, now we just need less 20 acre tracts with 15 people hunting it.

What county in East Texas are you talking about. East Texas covers a pretty long area. As for Harrison County, the part of the county I hunt has a lot of narrow but very tall genetics.
I see a whole lot of the comments about loving AR's are coming from the Western side of I-35 or South Texas.

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