Making the Rules

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2007

Last revision: Dec. 3, 2010

place in 2004 in 29 counties. This rule requires that deer hunters only take bucks with at least four points on one side of their rack.

The goal of the regulation is to improve both our ability to manage antlerless deer numbers and the age-structure of bucks in the population. But before any decision was made, we first had to know if hunters and farming landowners were willing to accept such a regulation. Were there other, more favorable, options we should consider?

Through public meetings and surveys we first took a “pulse check” of the people. Only after support was measured did we proceed with regulation recommendations. Even with the regulation in place, we have continued to assess hunter and landowner attitudes to see if changes are warranted.

Enforceable: Is the regulation able to be easily followed or understood by the hunter, and can it be enforced?

Can you imagine a regulation that requires a legal bow to cast an arrow at least 160 feet over a horizontal surface? Or that a legal round for deer hunting be required to have a muzzle velocity greater than 2,400 feet per second? How would a hunter be certain they were in compliance? How would an agent check these in the field?

Or what about requiring that a legal buck have a 17-inch spread? Can a hunter easily tell if a deer meets this requirement?

Usually all three concerns, biological, social and enforcement, come into play as a regulation develops.

I am often asked where does public input enter into the regulation equation? Who has or can have input? As you might imagine, public input comes in many ways, and balancing the interests of all and the interests of some is not always easy. The key is that we are always listening.

Missouri has more than 400,000 deer hunters. If we were to get letters or e-mails asking for a certain regulation change from 50 hunters, that would be a substantial number and it would get our attention. It would also raise the question, “How does the average hunter feel about the change?”

John Lewis, MDC’s former wild turkey biologist, my mentor and for many years my supervisor, used to ask me when a regulation change was being considered: “How does the one-gallus hunter feel about this?”

Now, for those of you decked out in the latest state-of-the-art hunting gear, the gallus is the strap holding up one’s bib overalls. John’s reference to

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