Deer Management for the Future
antler-point restrictions in 29 counties. In those counties during the archery and firearms deer hunting seasons, an antlered deer must have a minimum of four points on at least one side to be legal. If the rack has at least four points on one side, it doesn't matter how many points are on the other side.
Every point at least 1 inch long counts, including the brow tine, the point at the end of the main beam, and any broken tine that is at least 1-inch long.
The only exception to the antler-point restriction is that youths hunting during the two-day Youth Portion of the firearms season may take a buck with fewer than 4 points on a side. This exception was suggested by many of those attending the public meetings.
The antler-point restrictions should encourage a significant number of hunters who would normally take a small-antlered buck to take a doe instead. This would increase the doe harvest in those pilot counties. In addition, most of the yearling bucks protected under the 4-point rule should survive to be legal bucks in 2005.
If, as we expect, the doe harvest increases and remains relatively high, the new antler-point restriction should control both deer numbers and increase the percentage of mature bucks in the deer population. If doe harvest is inadequate, however, other deer management options must be considered.
The progress of the pilot program will be measured for up to five years. Biological factors and public reaction, however, may require us to make more changes even within this time frame.
During the deer season, we will collect teeth and record the number of points and antler beam diameter of bucks brought to selected check stations. This will help us track how the pilot regulations affect age and antler characteristics over time. Also, annual statewide attitude surveys will measure hunter and landowner satisfaction with regulations and deer population status.
All of the results will be carefully analyzed to determine the success of the pilot program and how it might be modified to further improve deer management.
Deer hunters and landowners play a critical role in Missouri deer management. The Department of Conservation continues to depend on input from both these groups to help us improve the way we manage the deer herd. The new antler-point restrictions that came about from our partnership with deer hunters and landowners should have the effect of increasing the harvest of does while, at