Carbon Express Arrows
Throphyism. Records and Money
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Bowriter 13-Dec-17
smarba 13-Dec-17
Bowriter 13-Dec-17
Inshart 13-Dec-17
Bowriter 13-Dec-17
Missouribreaks 13-Dec-17
stick n string 13-Dec-17
elk yinzer 13-Dec-17
Bowriter 13-Dec-17
painless 13-Dec-17
JTV 13-Dec-17
Missouribreaks 13-Dec-17
stick n string 13-Dec-17
Bowriter 13-Dec-17
Missouribreaks 13-Dec-17
Ollie 13-Dec-17
mountainman 13-Dec-17
mountainman 13-Dec-17
buzz mc 13-Dec-17
ohiohunter 13-Dec-17
LINK 13-Dec-17
stick n string 13-Dec-17
wilhille 13-Dec-17
elk yinzer 13-Dec-17
Matt 13-Dec-17
stealthycat 13-Dec-17
IdyllwildArcher 14-Dec-17
pav 14-Dec-17
GLP 14-Dec-17
12yards 14-Dec-17
Missouribreaks 14-Dec-17
sundaynwv 20-Dec-17
MichaelArnette 20-Dec-17
Bowriter 20-Dec-17
ohiohunter 20-Dec-17
hawkeye in PA 20-Dec-17
stick n string 20-Dec-17
Bowriter 20-Dec-17
JTV 20-Dec-17
TD 20-Dec-17
buzz mc 20-Dec-17
buzz mc 20-Dec-17
JTV 20-Dec-17
DTala 20-Dec-17
Bowriter 21-Dec-17
Bowriter 21-Dec-17
Bou'bound 21-Dec-17
12yards 21-Dec-17
buzz mc 21-Dec-17
12yards 21-Dec-17
Paul@thefort 21-Dec-17
Bowriter 21-Dec-17
TXHunter 21-Dec-17
ohiohunter 21-Dec-17
Bowriter 21-Dec-17
Bowriter 21-Dec-17
jjs 21-Dec-17
TXHunter 21-Dec-17
Zim1 21-Dec-17
stick n string 21-Dec-17
Rut Nut 22-Dec-17
Bowriter 22-Dec-17
Bowriter 22-Dec-17
TXHunter 23-Dec-17
Altizer 23-Dec-17
From: Bowriter
13-Dec-17
In view of the recent discussion(s) we have had on a variety of issues, I thought you might find this article I am running in January of interest. i have trouble getting things to format on here, so I have no idea how it will come out.

This is part two of a two-part series on the status of deer hunting nationwide in general and deer hunting and management in TN in particular. The opinions stated are my own. It is this writer’s feeling that deer hunting is on a slippery slope of which most hunters are not aware. I also want to clearly state, I personally, do not care how or what a hunter does long as it is legal and to some degree, ethical. That is their business.

Record Books, Competition, Antler Envy. “If squirrels had antlers, there wouldn’t be a one left in the woods.” I heard a biologist say that, many years ago. I wonder what he thinks, now? Animals with antlers are measured or scored by inches. The length and circumference of each point is measured, Then, air is measured-the width between antlers. All those figures are totaled and the final score is determined. That is what is being referred to when a hunter says, “I shot a 160-inch buck.” It is that which fuels the innumerable questions on online forums of “What will he score?” Much big game hunting has almost become a game of inches. Record book animals. Score, age and what will he be next year. It gives rise to the fallacy that a state can manage for trophy animals, to the thinking, TN can produce deer with Midwest antlers. (next)

But another fact has emerged. If you have the time, the drive and the money, you can kill a record book animal. Especially the money. And, you can, provided you have the cash, buy a genetically altered, pen-raised whitetail buck of just about whatever score you wish. It is common. (next)

Recently, a famous, television hunter killed a buck in Texas. It scored something like 206-inches. What he failed to mention was, that buck was genetically engineered, pen raised and behind a high fence. To a lesser degree, a great deal of deer hunting for wild, free-ranging deer is becoming a matter of money…and inches. If you have the money, the time and a modicum of skill, you can hunt places where your chances of killing a record book animal are greatly increased. I must now, post an admission. (next)

I was, for some years just such a hunter. By my rough estimate, I have 19-animals that qualify for various record books. One was killed in TN. I spent about 20-years, traveling and hunting all over the United States and Canada in search of record book animals. It was my job. And all of my hunting was done for free-ranging, completely fair chase animals. I admit it. (next)

I heard another television hunter, say, “Joe Hunter is the greatest bowhunter of all time.” Now I happen to like “Joe Hunter”. I consider him a friend. He has killed a tremendous number of trophy animals, as far as I know, all free-ranging. He is a nice guy and honest about his hunting. I also do not consider him to be in the top ten or maybe even top 20, bowhunters. Hunting, by my estimation, is not about the trophies on the wall. It is about enjoying the outdoors, enjoying the fruits of your hunting skill, enjoying the meat provided and most of all, enjoying the satisfaction of just going. It is not about heads or antlers on the wall. At least, it shouldn’t be. (next)

I suppose that is why I get worked up when state wildlife agencies, decide to get into trophy management and in doing so, penalize the average hunter. That is exactly what reducing the buck limit from three to two and abolishing the antlerless deer category did, here in TN. There was and is no biological reason for either measure. The people most affected were the hunters who are forced to hunt public land. The private land owners and hunters have always been able to manage what deer they kill or pass up. But now, they also want to dictate what you and I can kill or must pass up. In my opinion, that is wrong. (next)

It is the duty of the state wildlife agency to provide and protect a healthy deer herd. It is not their duty to be in the trophy business. That is up to the hunter. But a TWRA official, Capt. Dale Grandstaff, in speaking of the potential, world record deer, Stephen Tucker killed in 2017, recently said, “Producing quality deer like this has been one of our goals. It shows that Tennessee hunters don’t have to go to Iowa or Kansas or places like that to have a chance at killing a remarkable deer.” He continued. “If someone had killed that deer, (the Tucker deer,), when it was a spike, we wouldn’t be talking today.”(next)

Producing quality deer. Yes, that is and should be a goal of the agency. When did antlers have anything to do with quality? They don’t according to the Quality Deer Management Association-QDMA. A healthy herd, well within the carrying capacity and of suitable age and sex ratios, is a quality herd. We can have an acceptable number of bucks that reach maturity and their antler potential. We will never have bucks with the antler potential of Midwest bucks. When it comes to antler size-score, if a TN hunter wants to kill a buck comparable to IA or KS, a “remarkable” deer, he is going to have to go to those states-always. We cannot produce them in logical numbers, here. (next) What if that deer, (the Tucker deer), had been killed two or three years earlier? So what? It happens hundreds of times each year. Every time a young buck is killed, that buck will not live to reach his full potential. Bucks such as the one Mr. Tucker killed, cannot be managed for. They are an anomaly unless fed steroids or genetically engineered in a pen. In the wild, they are nothing more than an accident, a freak of nature. Compare them to an 8th grader who is 6-8 and 260-pounds and runs a 4.2-second, 40. And they, these anomalies and bucks with the size antlers of Midwest bucks, are never going to be the average in TN. Hunters from out of state are not going to flock to TN to kill a “trophy” and TN hunters are still going to have to go out of state to up their chances. Biologists, unless they are brain damaged or reciting a script, know this. (next)

Where does it end? Are we headed for a statewide limit of one buck every other year? Lot of good that will do, unless we start also shooting them full of drugs and doing some genetic engineering. Mr. Tucker over in Sumner County killed a monster, non-typical anomaly last year. No question. Possible new world record. Great buck, congratulations to him. Could have come from any county in any state and in no way is an indication, TN can routinely raise deer like that. Great deer, make no mistake. But it was also a freak of nature. Unless of course, it was an escapee from a pen. I have no reason to think it was. Neither is it an indication of the type of deer that can be routinely produced in TN. Or anywhere else…ever. I have been hunting in TN for many years. On Thanksgiving morning, 2017, I saw the second largest, antler-wise, buck I have ever seen here. I never saw him before and have seen him only once since. He was of the size I saw every year when I traveled the Midwest and Canada. (next)

But if TN and the TWRA want to get really serious about this trophy management business, here is a suggestion and it is one I will support. Steal a page from Iowa. No more centerfire rifles allowed and no firearm hunting from Nov. 1-Dec. 1. Yes, of course that is stupid and would probably cause a revolt. Rightly so. (next)

Let landowners and private land managers set their own rules and manage however they want. Statewide, manage for a healthy herd and let hunters decide what a trophy is. Since when did antlers become the standard for quality? (next)

If I wanted, this fall, I could kill a whitetail buck over 200-inches. If I could afford the price tag. I know where to go and I have not one doubt, within 12-hours of arriving, I could kill a monster buck. It would cost just about what a small boat and motor would, say about $35,000. It would not be hunting. I would go sit in one of their stands and when he came by, I would shoot him. Prior to that, they would show me pictures of him and tell me about what time he would be by. Then, they would release him from a small pen and herd him by. Happens many times, every year. In fact, you may not know it but you see it several times a year if you watch much outdoor programming on television. (next)

Want to kill a monster elk? Say, one that measures over 430-inches? I know a place you can go do it. Cost you some money, quite a bit. But you will stay in a luxury lodge, eat like a king and have a shot at under 75-yards. Except for the pictures, you won’t even have to touch him. I might be a tad leery of eating the meat, seeing as how it is shot full of steroids. Same with the deer. But you can do it. I know the people that run the place. Nice folks, even if they are Canadians. (That is a joke.) (next)

But where does it stop? When do we get back to hunting for the joy of hunting and forget the record books, the competition and the antler envy. And yes, the poaching and law breaking that goes with it.

From: smarba
13-Dec-17
Good read. Very easy to go back and edit your post by simply inserting to break it into paragraphs for easier reading. Thx

From: Bowriter
13-Dec-17
Sometimes that works, sometimes not. I had to add the (next) to get the graphs to break.

From: Inshart
13-Dec-17
John, good article, but what is TWRA?

From: Bowriter
13-Dec-17
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency-Our game department.

13-Dec-17
Good article. Unfortunately, politicians will follow the hunter wishes, looking for their votes. That concept throws sound and honest game management right out the door.

Horn porn, and all it's associated issues, was created by hunters for hunters. Who are you hoping to convince Bowriter?

13-Dec-17
That should win an award, right there...

From: elk yinzer
13-Dec-17
Yikes. My perception here, and I may be clouded by your boastful posts about the quality of your private land hunting, both past and present, is that you are fairly out of touch with the average hunter, particularly those toiling away on public land. Not in a Ted Nugent/Keith Warren sort of way, but more than a little tone-deaf.

Most of the Northeastern states, by the way, have a one buck limit. I imagine even a two-buck limit would be devastating to the public land I hunt locally, so your argument there is completely lost on me. Probably a regional thing. Borderline absurd, but then again I’ve never been to Tennessee. I understand advocating for management as it relates to private property rights, but advocating that this 33% reduction in harvest quota, absent any data about the deer population, biological habitat data, or hunter participation, is indicative of some overall hunting crisis, is to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Not to mention tangential to the supposed link to trophy hunting. If your thesis is that trophy hunting is our ruin, the beginning of our end, I largely agree, but quite frankly I don’t see how your state’s buck limit is even remotely relevant to that argument.

I find the whole reconciliation of “trophy hunting” ethics quite intriguing. I think of all the people I’ve heard speak to the matter, Steven Rinella probably says it best. To paraphrase, he conveys that it is human nature to want to pursue large animals, to use rack size as a measuring stick. To admire the racks on our wall as a memory of the hunt, and yes, as a personal accomplishment. In that sense there is nothing wrong with wanting to shoot large, mature animals, to selectively pursue them, or to manage populations with a component of that end-goal in mind. Where trophy hunting corrupts is when that becomes the absolute measure of a hunt, and it clouds situational ethics and the collective good of hunting in general.

He speaks of hunters all being in the same boat, but there are hunters out there shooting holes in the hull of our boat. I think that is a tremendous analogy and I love to use it.

I think we can all agree a guy breeding whitetails to have 400” racks and selling them to be killed (not hunted) in fenced enclosures, is shooting a whole in the hull of our boat. To be blunt, screw those guys, toss them overboard.

You did here in the article, and that's nice. But you essentially take the extreme, breeding whitetails and canned hunts, which 99% of bowsite can agree with, and assert that state management with any consideration of growing nicer bucks, is close to that on a continuum of right/wrong...now come on, man, you're the one shooting holes in our boat. That's just ridiculous!

So where does it go from there? The wealthy non-resident that comes in and buys or leases land in Iowa, displacing 20 locals so he can have his personal hunting sanctuary, is that guy shooting holes in the hull of our boat? He worked hard for his wealth and is exercising private property rights, no? Huge gray area. Totally legal, good for him, but is this good for hunting? I don't know the answer to that.

On a state management level, you assert that state agencies must only manage to some sort of biological minimum. What? How is that defined? Is there not some component of wildlife management that does indeed consider the concerns of all its stakeholders, including their customers wishing for opportunities at mature deer on public land? If not, why not just put Utah and Arizona on blast? My perception is that those two states cater to trophy hunting to a shocking degree? I think on the other end of the spectrum I’ve looked at South Carolina and find their policies shocking, deer are basically open season there. I don’t know how any remain.

When you try to correlate the biology too closely to hunter’s desires and equate it to trophy hunting, what you are really trying to convey and should be trying to convey is obscured. To assert that there are some perfect, real-time biological measures out there that form the quantitative basis for statewide management is a ridiculous, unsupportable premise.

From: Bowriter
13-Dec-17
Elk Yinzer, this article is written for Tn readers, mainly, and you are right, you have no idea what our deer situation is. Keep in mind, we have a 3-doe/day limit for over 111-days. Reducing the buck limit from three to two, according to TWRA's own figures, would only "save" approximately 2,000 deer of the reported buck kill. Insignificant and biologically unfounded. However, I have no problem with that. Keep in mind, you cannot compare game management, one state with another. Each must be managed according to that state's game population, terrain, hunter numbers, human population density, habitat(s), herd composition and other factors. Now as to a biological minimum, I'm not sure where you got that. The state should manage according to environmental soundness, biological soundness, economical feasibility and then, hunter desires. Other than that, we pretty well agree on most points. One last point. I did not write this for Bowsite. I wrote it for Tennessee publication. I posted it because there have been several topics that touch on various points.

From: painless
13-Dec-17
My sentiments exactly. I have a good friend that went to Michigan a couple of years ago and shot a 440 elk. He's really proud of it. I told him that, while he's out if town one weekend, I was going to sneak into his house and hang a plaque above it that reads "Pen Raised and Corn Fed!" I've got a 340 elk, which is much smaller, that my hunting buddy called into 12 yards for me. I made a heart shot and he only traveled 38 yrds. I'll take my fair chase 340 any day.

13-Dec-17
Good essay but John you are asking for feedback. Why ask from many here who are not from TN that will not agree with every word? Like Yinzer, I do not have most of the answers either. I like free markets and property rights so I am not opposed to leasing, yet recognize that it has displaced local hunters. But, then again they are free to earn more money and play the same game, right?

I already think we are past the peak of the deer craziness. Like golf, or any other pursuit, hunting will trend in a different direction. I generally like the private land managers and what they are accomplishing, yet at the same time believe there needs to be a sense of fairness with regards to access. Thanks.

From: JTV
13-Dec-17
one of the best moves the Indiana DNR ever did was go to the one Buck rule... the onslaught towards antlerless continues, albeit at a slower rate, this very well could be the lowest deer kill this season in the last 14 years .... I would hate to see more than 1 buck legal again, esp. on our Fish and Wildlife areas where pressure is super intense .. while they have backed off a number of counties in the Dec. kill all the does they can season, we still allow and almost endless number to be killed, within county limits of course... Yea, I hunt for a big buck every year, it is what I do... so far this season, I havnt got the shot, came close, so I keep trying... the high fence crap that I find is most disturbing and the genetic misfits they breed... hunting free range for a big buck is one thing, but this high fence crap churns my stomach ....

13-Dec-17
I also have no issue with leasing or purchasing land for hunting and private land management. All hunters can do the same if they are willing to work hard and pay for such opportunities. It is a choice!

13-Dec-17
Elk Yinzer for president....

Nailed it....

From: Bowriter
13-Dec-17
Not asking for feedback at all. But let me throw this out for consideration. TN has approx. 200,000 deer hunters. We kill about 160-170,000 deer a year, maybe 60-70 bucks. The total herd population is estimated at about a million, give or take. Of what value is a difference between one buck, two bucks or three bucks when only about 2% of the hunters, kill more than one to start with? You, see, you can't base what should be done in Tn with what is done in IN or IA or TX. Each state, must be managed according to the data for that state. East TN, has been hit hard by EHD. Kill numbers are going to be down in those areas. As a result, if the herd is managed correctly, there should be some adjustment for next year. But the rest of the sate is actually up, to some degree in harvest numbers. You have to use the data. But if the data is faulty, you have problems. Changing a regulation without sound biological reason and basis, is just poor management. Just as thinking reducing the buck harvest will provide Midwest deer in TN is plain ridiculous. What it will provide is more bucks dying of old age with 125" antlers. That is what part of this article is about. It is not about how state XYZ should manage their deer herd or what the buck limit should be in PA. And it is about raising and buying a set of antlers and what is happening to hunting. It is not a debate or a request for input.

13-Dec-17
Too broad of a topic to make a useful discussion. What is your thesis statement?

From: Ollie
13-Dec-17
I see nothing wrong with what TWRA is doing provided that the hunters of the state support this. Nothing wrong with trying to implement quality management. How many bucks does Joe Hunter need to kill each season? I hunted east Tennessee in the early 1980's while going to school in Knoxville. You were lucky just to see a deer. I lived and hunted next door in North Carolina from 1988-2001. Had many of the same issues. 5 buck limit. Long gun season. Gun hunting during the rut. Guys were filling their 5 tags shooting little yearling bucks. I about got run out of the state trying to promote restraint and quality management. NC implemented changes to their season after I left in 2001 and now you hear a lot of support for the changes...because hunters are seeing the benefits firsthand.

From: mountainman
13-Dec-17
Good article. I do wish, considering your article may be read by non hunting public, that you would draw a very distinct line between the high fence and fair chase. Make sure people understand that they are COMPLETELY different. And also point out that most everyday hunters (at least every one I know) is against the high fence whitetail/elk stuff and don't even consider it hunting.

From: mountainman
13-Dec-17

From: buzz mc
13-Dec-17
I would think that since you reach such a broad non-hunting audience, you'd want to use your platform to promote the positive aspects of hunting instead of complaining about a very minor negative aspect of the lifestyle.

FYI, TWRA didn't recommend the reduction in the buck limits or the current definition of an antlerless deer. They actually said that it was not necessary for biologic reasons. The changes were proposed by the Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission (the representatives of the sportsmen).

From: ohiohunter
13-Dec-17
x2 Buzz, spot on and concise.. no guff. Anyone else noticing a trend or is it just me?

From: LINK
13-Dec-17
Good write but I do disagree on the number of bucks allowed to kill. Oklahoma reduced it from 2 to 3 several years back and I wish the would go to 1. Particularly on public ground, is it in hunters interests to be able to kill 3 bucks? That would make it hard to even find a buck on public ground. If the land is beyond carrying capacity, wack away, but I don’t see the need to cry about being reduced from 3 bucks to 2. I do like your point about antler restrictions.

13-Dec-17
In today's world, promoting the positive does not win awards…

And I can't wait to start and argument with my wife tonight like this… I'm not looking for feedback, but I think you should take care of the woodstove tonight because it's cold outside and I don't feel like it.

From: wilhille
13-Dec-17
Yes Ohio there certainly is a pattern......

From: elk yinzer
13-Dec-17
Getting too attached to "biological reasoning" and some of the associated statistics is a slippery slope for bowhunters. Our seasons, biologically don't need to exist in most areas. Rifles manage deer much more efficiently. They exist because there is a hunter demand for them. Wildlife management is a strange and unique mix of biology, politics, and economics with a heavy dose of government incompetency. Last I heard, bucks dying of old age isn't one of hunting's biggest problems, and you know that's the truth.

From: Matt
13-Dec-17
The thing many overlook is that better scoring bucks tend to be older, so managing for "score" correlates with managing for maturity and a more normal age class distribution. From my perspective, there is value in that - even if the desirable result comes from managing for a less desirable one.

From: stealthycat
13-Dec-17
ask yourself - if every buck had its antlers cut off in August, would you deer hunt that season?

that'll tell you what you are hunting for - antlers or the hunt

14-Dec-17
The correlation between "the record books" and the antler craze is not completely cause and effect. Elk Yinzer is very correct in that sentiment. I do believe that SCI's accepting pen-raised deer for records does fuel some acceptance of high-fence operations, but those people are going to pay for success anyways.

The fact remains, there are literally tons of people who hunt and want large antlered animals, but either regularly shoot smaller animals, and/or shoot large animals and have zero intention of ever entering them in the record books.

Trophy hunting for large antlered animals in the lower 48 wasn't around prior to the 1960s like it is now because we just didn't have the animals to sustain it, not because of the record books. If you build it, they will come. There was no baseball field to play on before, which was why a doe was a trophy back then.

As far as your discussion on TN's limit on bucks, I'm sure you're right.

From: pav
14-Dec-17

pav's embedded Photo
pav's embedded Photo
Bowriter - "Reducing the buck limit from three to two, according to TWRA's own figures, would only "save" approximately 2,000 deer of the reported buck kill. Insignificant and biologically unfounded."

Sorry, but I have to call BS on using harvest number as a measure of success when reducing antlered deer bag limits. Indiana adopted a one buck rule some fifteen years ago. Best thing that ever happened for deer hunting in our state IMO. Prior to the change, Indiana's yearling buck harvest exceeded 60% of the total buck harvest on a regular basis. By year three, that number dropped to 50% and by year six dropped below 40%....and basically leveled off there. The chart reflects data through 2013....as the introduction of telecheck and online deer checking eliminated the long standing deer check station measure.

I don't know how many bucks are saved annually due to the one buck limit? I can tell you the one buck limit absolutely changed deer hunter mindsets in Indiana. Alot of guys that shot the first yearling buck they saw...because they had another buck tag to fall back on....stopped doing that. The result is the availability of an older age class of animal for people to hunt. If a guy still wants to shoot the first yearling buck he sees...more power to him...but he's done shooting antlered deer for the year.

Personally, I measure "deer herd quality" based on the age classes of animals I see while hunting. The one buck limit has absolutely had a positive affect on deer herd quality in that regard. I hope it never changes.....

From: GLP
14-Dec-17
Things evolve and are constantly changing! When I started hunting in the late 60s a deer was judged by weight! There size rack was an after thought! We will never go back! Nor will we go back to the good old days of these issues. Wait till the liberals take over our wildlife offices like they have others. Maybe 25 years but they will. Then those still alive will wish for these days back! Sad but true. Greg

From: 12yards
14-Dec-17
Your article should be an opinion piece/editorial, not an article. An article should focus on informing what the agencies goals are and what the outcomes might be. IMO, you are just a guy lamenting change and resistant to anything that might mess with tradition. Management to increase buck age structure always brings resistance. But once instituted, more often than not, gains acceptance after results are experienced. If better bucks are harvested on public land than in the past, who wouldn't want that? Seriously? I see virtually no negative in reducing buck harvest, especially if antlerless harvest is liberal for meat hunters. Everyone should be happy. Meat hunters and guys that want to shoot a decent buck. This is not trophy management at all. Not even close.

14-Dec-17
Good post GLP. The liberals and the ballot box will control game management. This is not speculation as it is already happening in almost all states. There is no going back to the golden days of hunting and trapping culture, glad I experienced it.

From: sundaynwv
20-Dec-17
A two or three buck limit isn't about how many people kill a second or third buck, it's about how many people shoot the first buck they see with little regards to management or happiness because they still have a tag or two in their pocket. Sorry, you can't tell me the guy that kills a small buck at 7 a.m. OM opening morning is doing it because he likes to hunt. He's doing it because he likes to fill tags and has the ability to do so.

If a hunter has taken a few small deer, it's ok to pass on one, extend the hunt, and spend more time outdoors doing what they love. If they need meat, shoot a doe and let some yearling bucks mature.

Bowriter,

Conversely, if only 2,000 bucks are being taken on that tag, what's the big deal with doing away with it? And you can't say any limit on opportunity is bad because we have people who want unlimited opportunity and it is not bad to have bag limits that prevent that.

20-Dec-17
Bowwriter...I don't always agree with you specifically want to comes to crossbows LOL but I couldn't agree with you more on this topic. Mostly just on the whole mindset of trophy hunting. Folks we are going to lose our sport over this promise/practice/theme!!! Just look at what inserting the word "trophy" did in British Columbia.

If we are going to maintain a healthy level of respect among nonhunters we're going to have to completely abandon the word trophy entirely!

...and while we are on the subject of specifically Whitetail management. I see nothing wrong with antler point restrictions although they can and do cause a natural selection for poor antler traits. Nor do I have a problem with the reduction in antlered harvest limits which cars hunters to actually think before they shoot. However, I do think it is dangerous to assume that shooting several does and only one back isn't going to negatively impact the overall population! ...I mean we are shooting all of the reproductive herd each year!

...so reading all of the comments above, I kind of cringe when I hear guys say things like "well shoot one good buck and a few does if you need to meat" ...in my opinion in most states the anterless harvest is a little bit high

From: Bowriter
20-Dec-17
MichaelArnette-couple things. On private property that can be closely monitored, Ihave no problem with AR's at all. I advocate an eight-point and 16" rule. But not state-wide where it cannot be properly monitored.

I also have no problem with a one-buck limit where it is biologically needed or meets with the desires of the MAJORITY of hunters. In the case of TN. it does neither. It will have no impact whatsoever on age classes or buck population and is opposed to the wishes of the majority of hunters.

In terms of a doe quota, it is only high if the herd population needs bolstering. In many cases and areas, the exact opposite is true. The area where I live, the limit is three-does a day for over 100 days and still we have too many deer.

So, you see, all things are relative. Regulations must fit the environment, be biologically sound, must be financially feasible and last of all, meet with the MAJORITY of hunter approval. You should not change a regulation just because a small, vocal, misinformed and well to do segment has the ear of the wildlife commission. I cannot and do not speak for other states. Each state must be managed according to their factors. In this state, it should be managed in three segments east-Middle-West and to some extent, it is. Very few regulations are suitable for blanket rules. Just as it is for comparing one state to another.

From: ohiohunter
20-Dec-17
I don't know your location Michael, but there are states that have had daily limits for years and I don't think their herd is suffering. Most damage is done by disease which could be attributed to over population, which is the exact opposite of your position. So when you're talking about herd management, clarify the herd you're talking about.

I've seen Ohio go from 1 deer to 7 (in areas) back down 2 or 3 compared to others that had/have 1-3/day limit ... its all relative.

20-Dec-17
John, I pretty much agree with you. 13k seems like the going rate for a record book whitetail. It's not for me.

20-Dec-17
If you can kill 3 deer a day for 100 days and you still have too many deer, you probably need to take more people hunting with you on these properties that are loaded with deer.

Ohio, i think you are spot on. Different areas are different situations.

From: Bowriter
20-Dec-17
The properties I hunt, are not loaded. It is the surrounding areas, primarily suburban that are over populated. We only have about 200,000 hunters statewide and they can't all hunt in the the Unit L counties. Not many hunters do as I do, kill 6-10 does a year.

From: JTV
20-Dec-17
what is the total state kill numbers... antlered and antlerless ?? ........We here in Indiana are going to see the lowest kill in about 14 years this season ..

From: TD
20-Dec-17
Trophy hunting isn't "new". You don't see many raghorns painted on cave walls........ they likely didn't kill many of them, killed what was opportunistic and easy. But even then they obviously coveted the mature animals, trophy animals. Stories and word of exceptional animals spread around back in my grandfathers day, they cared. But they had little free time, no internet and food wasn't taken so much for granted...... I've also seen very old pics of barns covered in antlers.

And I have to confess...... I hate the current sports trend of NOT keeping score and handing out participation trophies for showing up. "We're all winners!" yay.

I'm not sure what some folks are getting at here. Seems in the same breath they don't really CARE about "trophies" and size, that it is ruining hunting..... but are also wicked off that being able to hunt bigger animals is getting expensive??

From: buzz mc
20-Dec-17
In TN, the 2015-2016 season was the last year of the 3 buck limit, the antlered kill was 81,928, the antlerless kill was 85,488. The first year of the 2 buck limit was 2016-2017. The antlered kill numbers are 81,215 and the antlerless kill was 76,587.

From: buzz mc
20-Dec-17
TN now has 5 units with over half the state being able to kill 3 does a day from Sept 23 until Jan 12.

From: JTV
20-Dec-17
a lot more killed than here, our best year ever was only 136,000 total and that was in 2012.... been going down since .... well end up this year around 112-115K, down from last years 119K

From: DTala
20-Dec-17
please act like you know what you are talking about and don't use the phrase "shot full of steroids". High fence deer breeders do not feed/inject steroids into their deer. Steroids do no grow antlers like a lot of folks think.

From: Bowriter
21-Dec-17
Here are a couple "interesting" aspects of the numbers for TN. If you look at the numbers Buzz posted, "In TN, the 2015-2016 season was the last year of the 3 buck limit, the antlered kill was 81,928, the antlerless kill was 85,488. The first year of the 2 buck limit was 2016-2017. The antlered kill numbers are 81,215 and the antlerless kill was 76,587." note that when the buck limit was reduced from three to two, the number of bucks killed was reduced by about 700 animals. Actually, that is slightly different from the numbers I have. My figures show it actually increased by about 1,000 animals-doesn't matter. The point being, as I have repeatedly said, in TN, it makes no impact either way. Now, note the decrease in the number of antlerless deer killed. But here is a very interesting piece of "data".

TN for years had an antlerless deer category for bucks with antlers under 3.5". They were counted as bucks but did not cost the hunter a buck tag. That category annually ran between 8,500 and 10,000 animals. The YEAR BEFORE, that category was abolished, the kill suddenly dropped from 10,000 to 3,000 with no explanation. And the doe kill mysteriously increased by 7,000 animals.

The concern by many hunters and biologists was that if that category was abolished, hunters would quit shooting at does once they had filled a buck tag because they would not want to risk either being over the limit or wasting their last tag. I publicly and loudly accused the TWRA of data manipulation. We lost the best big game biologist we ever had because he refused to provide the commission with "doctored" data. Go back and look at the figures, again. I was and am being given access to information the state would like to keep quiet. As a result, I am able to ask for proof of various figures which the state cannot provide. It is a simple matter of math. Their numbers simply do not add up.

Is our deer herd in trouble? Absolutely not. In East TN, we had a serious EHD outbreak. Other than that, no, our deer herd is in good shape. That is not the point. My point and that of many hunters and managers is simply one of transparency. Here is the crux of it.

(1)-There was and is no basis for reducing the buck limit from three to two. It was not biologically needed. It had and will have NO impact on our buck herd, simply because we are talking such a small number of animals, state wide. But it can have two negative impacts on the doe kill. Hunters, many of them, once they fill two buck tags, quit hunting. And, with the abolishment of the antlerless deer tag, deer killed go unreported. That results in faulty data. (2) Due to #1 and the abolition of the antlerless category, it became obvious some data was being manipulated. When that happens, sound management is lost.

I and a couple other outdoor writers who have no fear of political repercussions, have taken the Commission to task. I was invited to lunch with the head of the Commission. She is totally clueless, simply a career politician used to making backroom deals and raising Labs. One commissioner even admitted to dealing going on. I am hopeful the antlerless category will be reinstated this coming year. As for the buck limit, I don't care, personally. The only people it handicaps are the hunters who are forced to hunt public ground. So few of TN hunters kill three bucks, it meaningless as a tool to increase age classes. The main focus of my "ire" is that the agency, (fearing for their jobs,), is providing the commission with manipulated data to support a change that was wanted by a small, MINORITY of vocal mostly wealthy influential hunters that had no sound biological or environmental basis.

Simply...politics as usual.

From: Bowriter
21-Dec-17
As of yesterday: Total male animals killed 71,451. Total female animals killed- 45,565. Of the number of male animals killed, 3,361 were recorded as button bucks. Therefore, then number of "racked" bucks as of yesterday is 68,090 and the season is almost over. I would bet something shiny, the final figures, once again, will not make sense.

From: Bou'bound
21-Dec-17
Pav gets it.

From: 12yards
21-Dec-17
"The concern by many hunters and biologists was that if that category was abolished, hunters would quit shooting at does once they had filled a buck tag because they would not want to risk either being over the limit or wasting their last tag."

That is amazing hunter behavior. In MN, we are a 1 buck state and our hunters will shoot the crap out of every doe they have a tag for even if their buck tag is filled. Maybe MN hunters have better vision than TN hunters. But seriously, if TN hunters actually show that behavior I'd be surprised. I'm sure they will eventually adapt. And on the subject of support for buck management, are you sure it is a wealthy few that want it? Have surveys been done of hunters regarding their support, or lack thereof, of buck management?

From: buzz mc
21-Dec-17
One of the biggest reasons TN hunters don't want to shoot does is that we have something called a Type 94 license. In addition to our regular Big Game License, it's a permit that costs $25 and is required for hunters wishing to shoot a doe during the gun season. If a hunter is wanting to just shoot a deer or 2, why spend the additional $25 when you can just shoot the first two bucks that walk by.

From: 12yards
21-Dec-17
Wow buzz mc, that is a really dumb way to try and manage does. Unreal!

From: Paul@thefort
21-Dec-17
John, Not sure if you are looking for comments, from fellow Bowsiters, to make any changes or not; so after reading all of these replies, are you considering making any changes to your essay or position, or not at all? my best, Paul

From: Bowriter
21-Dec-17
Paul, as to making any changes to my position, absolutely not. Although many of the comments have merit, they do not in specificity to TN, in terms of deer management. As I have said in many places, each state must be managed according to that state, not what works or is done in another state. As for the trophy aspect-buying a trophy- I can see no reason to change how I feel about it. One of things, I believe many Bowsiters overlooked was this column is scheduled to run almost totally in TN with a little overlap into MS and AR. So it applies to what is done or not being done here, in terms of deer management. The trophyism aspect, is national in scope.

From: TXHunter
21-Dec-17
Yeah, I don’t see much of a connection between HF canned deer shooting and states dipping their toes into trying to manage for a little higher age class buck harvest.

An antler-restriction (minimum 13” spread law) was passed in about half the counties in TX about a decade ago. Heard all the “sky is falling” arguments against it at the time (much like these).

Now, the age class average of the harvest has jumped up almost 2 years, everyone is taking nicer bucks, and one can hardly find anyone not in favor of it.

From: ohiohunter
21-Dec-17
Sorry, it would take me reading about half a column to know I'd never read them again. I think I'd rather look at a JcPenney ad.

From: Bowriter
21-Dec-17
LOL- JC Penney as is free. Enjoy. bet I know which ads you like, too. LOL

From: Bowriter
21-Dec-17
TxHunter- you make a good point and a valid one. TX has also had baiting for as far back as I can remember. When I lived there, 1959-64, mostly in the Hill Country and in Austin, the only real large antlers came from South TX. It was understood, to some extent, large racks could not be produced in the Hill Country. Maybe that has changed. But in essence, you are right. Certain antler restrictions do seem to have worked in TX. Now, let me ask you this.

How would those restrictions work if TX had less than 200,000 deer hunters? What if single land holdings of over 1,000 acres were rare? What if large managed properties did not exist? What if less than 25% of TX deer hunters hunted on leases? What if the majority of TX deer hunters, hunted public land? What if TX had no viable check-in process? TX is TX and should be managed according to TX factors. And...TN should as well. You cannot compare apples to pumpkins and always expect to get tangerines. Just as Ohio should not be managed like IA or PA the same as SC. Each state is unique. The management program for each state should be as well.

In TN, we don't sit in shooting houses over senderos and wait for the feeder to go off. We often hunt quite thick, hardwood forests and have split seconds to make decisions on antlers. It is much more like hunting portions of East TX. How is that area managed?

You see what I am getting at? Deer management must be structured. It must fit all of the factors for that particular area and the hunter profile for that area. The two regulation changes I mentioned, are prime examples. Reducing the buck limit from three to two did nothing...not one thing in terms of improving age class or antler size. Why? Simply because it did not protect or "pass on" enough deer state wide to even be worthy of a sample. The last figure I saw was less than 1900, state wide. That is nothing. That is an average of 20-per County.The second change, was and is potentially harmful and evidence of that is showing up. I think I explained that. Yes, we have counties that need a one buck limit or even close buck hunting for a year or so. But we cannot macro manage. That is why macro management or tweaking, should be done on private land where it can be monitored and enforced. I don't think I can explain it any more clear than that. Now, like Ohio Hunter, I think I'll go look at the bra ads in the Penney catalog. LOL

From: jjs
21-Dec-17
Did one of my USN duty station at Millington, Tn. back in 72 and had a fellow bud that live up in Martin, Tn. and at that time I was amazed at the small seize of the whitetail. Went on several hunts with him around the Crocket Bottoms and several bucks were shot that weighed around 110-120#, being from Iowa I would joke with my friend that dogs were bigger, like he said if there were any big bucks around there weren't any poachers around either, that was a different time. But as far as buck today's buck management it is all about the equipment method that is being used, the technology of the compound and now x-bows has put a lot of hunting pressure and kills on the buck population, remember going to a Wi. St. DNR whitetail meeting and the life stats of a buck was zero by age 4, 2 yr old bucks started to drop off from there. Put my opinion in on improvement and said to do away the center fire and go shotgun/muzzle only and may restrict the release on the bow (fingers only) and that was put down by the majority except one old gent that stated I was exactly right. I told the Wi. St DNR Deer Manager if he wanted proof on the firearm is just look over at Iowa or S.E. Mn. that was shotgun only. As Ollie stated above, the people have to change their hunting minds on what they want either quality or quantity and it is only the majority of hunters that can make it happen.

From: TXHunter
21-Dec-17

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Bowriter-

I was born and raised in east TX. I live here. My hunting place is here (400 acres). Thanks to the ARs and one branch-antlered buck rule, it’s doing great - thanks for asking. It sure sucked though when everyone shot the first 1 1/2 year old buck they saw - before TP&W instilled a little “macromanagement”.

Oh, and not a feeder or sendero on my place.

From: Zim1
21-Dec-17
I for one would be all for any restrictions on TN deer regulations. Their hunters clog the west central Illinois public properties I hunt. Curious if some think mature bucks have ANY place at all in the eco-system..............that age structure is a part of a healthy deer herd? Apparently not. Sounds to me like it's a great idea to have button bucks mounting all the does in the area like my Indiana land had 20 years ago. IMO when 95% of the hunters are targeting them, mature bucks need a disproportional amount of protection, as in no guns during the rut, if the goal is a balanced and healthy deer herd. That would also greatly remedy the imbalanced hunter distribution. Restoring Illinois’ REAL nonresident quota would also help extinguish the dumpster fire that Illinois public land has become. Of course, way too many greased politicians lurking here for that to ever occur. Hope they stay the hell out of Iowa.

21-Dec-17
Paul, he isnt coming here looking to improve on anything. Its simple, his "love me some me" space isnt big enough, so its gotta spill out somewheres. And we are the ones awarded with the award winning spill over. Only thing longer than his longest running outdoor column ever is his super long arm. To ya know, pat his own back..... Just thought i'd mention

From: Rut Nut
22-Dec-17
stick- you just NAILED it!!!!!!!!!!!!! : )

YOU should get an AWARD for that post!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From: Bowriter
22-Dec-17
I wonder, what do y'all think about color television? Should it be legal during bow season? BASB

From: Bowriter
22-Dec-17
TX Hunter, thanks for proving my point. Those are some nice east Texas deer.

From: TXHunter
23-Dec-17
I actually disproved at least a couple of your points: 1)that antler restrictions can’t work in woods country (you yourself compared east TX to TN); and 2)reducing buck limits is a terrible thing to do.

ARs combined with reduction to 1 racked buck tag basically saved hunting in the east TX woods. In other words, your hated state “macromanagement”.

But, as always, when facts contradict your opinions (which are so often stated as facts), you just take a new tack and declare victory.

I generally agree with your “pay to play” opinions - but your attempts to link those somehow with free-range management attempts to improve age classes falls completely flat.

From: Altizer
23-Dec-17
John, Thanks for the article. I have always enjoyed your writing. I like some points and have a different view on a couple of points. I feel I have a pretty good over view of TWRA’s management over the last 45 years. I remember the week long buck only bow seasons years ago with One deer a year We saw a high percentage of good bucks then. With TWRA reducing the buck limit to two, I have seen an improvement in the ratio of 2.5 yr old bucks in the last couple of years. The two buck limit has helped here in N E Tn. The more 2.5s the greater chance more will make it to 3 or older. Then you start seeing trophy quality bucks comparable to midwestern bucks. We can grow them if they make the age. But the mentality of if I don’t kill him the neighbor will continues to plague the herd. I feel I can speak to this as good as anyone. As you may remember I killed the TN state archery record in 1984. He was a 173 inch 4.5 yr old. Limited seasons allowed him to grow up. In the years I did videos and tv I was lucky enough to hunt Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana, several others including eastern Colorado. I killed lots of great trophy class deer between 130 the 201. The one factor common was they got to grow up. This was in part to large tracks of land that managed/or allowed the bucks to grow old and limited bag limits. The states with the best deer usually had a one buck limit with multiple does tags available. People were more picky and the ratio was better. The other factor in this is the more mature bucks that servive the greater the competition is for breeding. This promotes better genetics in the herd plus better competitive behavior which makes for better hunting opportunities for the hunter. A great point you brought up was closing rifle season during the peak rutting weeks. This allows more superior bucks to survive and breed which improves the herd. I love shooting big bucks with my recurve as much as anyone but I wish TWRA would drop to a one buck limit with a three point on a side restriction. Your right that it would impact the average hunter most but the difference in the trophy quality that would occur in three years would be enormous. I think most would be very pleased after the three years. Years ago I worked with biologist along the Mississippi flood plains on various properties and watched what the one buck and six doe bag limits resulted in. The results were amazing in three years and the monster bucks that were killed at four to six years surprised everyone. Trophy deer rarely just happen on a consistent basis. It takes age, food, a healthy ratio of bucks to does. If a herd is allowed the opportunity it will grow healthier. TWRA needs to further limit the buck limit to one and reduce the doe numbers. The better ratio of older bucks the stronger the herd. Merry Christmas all

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