Deer Hunting: Northwest Michigan Antler Point Restriction on the Agenda

Want an issue more touchy than wolves? Enter APRs!

It is deer hunting regulation-setting season, and the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) kicked this off on May 9, at their monthly meeting at the RAM Center. They discussed antlerless harvest and which Deer Management Units (DMUs) should be open or closed, based on the recommendations of DNR wildlife biologists. They will also be taking up the Northwest Michigan APR proposal, for possible action next week.

Antler point restrictions (APRs) are a means by which harvest of young bucks can be reduced by requiring hunters to only harvest deer with a minimum number of antler points. MUCC supports the voluntary implementation of APRs on private land, but we have no position for or against mandatory APRs in a region. When these proposals come up, we share the information with our members and allow them to engage in the process in what ever way they wish.

The APR Process

A process developed by the NRC, the Department, and other interested stakeholders allows hunting organizations to propose implementation of a mandatory APR in one or more DMUs. A key component of this process is the requirement for the Department to conduct a survey to evaluate support for these regulations among hunters in the proposed area. If the Department has no concerns regarding implementation ofthe APR, implementation by the NRC will be recommended if the survey achieves at least a 50% response rate and indicates at least 66% of hunters support the proposal.

Support for APR regulations implemented under this process is to be reevaluated after they are in place for five years.

The Proposal

The Northwest Michigan Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association proposed implementation of an APR to require that hunters harvest an antlered deer only if they have at least one antler with three or more antler points. A second antlered deer would need to have at least four points on one antler, which is consistent with current regulations. The proposed area included Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet,
Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola, and Wexford Counties in the Northwest Lower Peninsula. county_map_contacts1

The Department mail survey to evaluate support for this proposal achieved an 80% response rate and indicated about 69% of hunters supported the APR. In keeping with the APR process, the Department recommends the NRC implement the proposed APR beginning with the 2013
deer hunting season.

What Do You Think?

The next step is the NRC taking public comment on the proposal before acting on it at their June 13 meeting in Lansing. Concerns have already been expressed by farmers (mainly orchard owners) about larger bucks impacting their trees through rubbing and from sportsmen concerned that this might increase the prevalence of Bovine Tb. In both cases, it is believed that continuing or increasing doe harvest will help more than the APR might harm the health of the population or agriculture. But it’s still a tricky thing. There is no exemption for youth or people with disabilities. What about hunters who rely on this for a source of lean, healthy, and inexpensive protein?

Share your thoughts with the NRC members directly by attending the meeting or contacting them.

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  • Dwarners

    I am 100% for it! Give it 3 years and we will have some great whitetails around, there for bigger much and more income to the state and local Communities

    • fred

      I already have a 6pt or better rule on my farm, as well as a no doe if she has fawns. good rule for state land, but quit trying to tell me how to hunt and manage my own farm. if my 12yr old grandson wants to take a spike or forkhorn, he can and who is the state or any other organization to say he can’t. all this will do is create more illegal activity.

  • Lifelonghunter

    Totally against it. More regulation and Government intervention. Just another sure way of not getting youths involved and interested in hunting. They don’t care if they shoot a spike or a 12 point. And after well over 30 years of hunting….I don’t either.

    • timberdoodledude

      If a spike and a 12 point appear before you, both at 35 yards, both offering a nice quartering away shot… you’re telling me “you don’t care” which one takes a dirt nap? I call BS!

      Your concern is that you won’t get yours, but that’s an unjustified fear. After the first year, these regulations won’t affect the number of deer taken, they will only affect the size of those deer.

      As for govt regulation… that’s another BS cop-out. The govt already regulates the dates and length of the season, the number of antlered/unantlered deer you can take, the kind of equipment you can use. APRs are no different than size limits on fish. It’s part of ensuring a quality resource an a quality experience in the great outdoors.

      • Charlie Glocksine

        I have shot a 12pt and spikes and they both look the same in the freezer. After 50 ,years of hunting I have found trophy hunting is just an ego thing. I am tired of people forcing their agendas on me.

        • timberdoodledude

          “I am tired of people forcing their agendas on me.”

          Welcome to America Charlie. Just get off the boat?

          • Charlie Glocksine

            So we agree that trophy hunting is a ego thing?

          • timberdoodledude

            I didn’t say that. Though one could argue that hunting in general involves some degree of “ego thing”…

            Go back to my example above. You have equal opportunity to shoot a spike or a 12 point. Which one do you take and why?

          • Charlie Glocksine

            That example is a no brainer for most hunters but the odds of that happening are slim and none and slim left town. It all comes down to the minority trying to force the majority to their way of thinking.

          • timberdoodledude

            It’s a “no brainer” that your ego would drive you to shoot the bigger deer? Face it… all hunters are trophy hunters whether your trophy is the rack of a 12-point or the satisfaction you feel putting spikehorn meat in the freezer.

          • don

            Which one has the bigger body. If the spike was huge and the 12 point was small, I would shoot the spike. Last year I took my son in law and he shot a five point, you would have thought he shot a monster. You want to see better bucks get rid of the second license and tell your hunting buddies to stop filling other peoples tags.

          • Alex

            I agree with Charlie, meat is meat i dont have a recepie for antler soup and the twelve point is not always going to have the bigger body. It all depends on how much the deer eats and what it is eating. Its not all about points. What we really need to do is get more doe tags out on sale. There is way more does than buck so by depleeting the doe population the doe buck ratio will go up, thus producing more bucks,which is were an antler restriction like this would be more efective. Further more the APR is only going to get youth/novice hunters hunters less intrested in the sport because they could see multiple spikes/four points and not be able to shoot any of them….yes there is a pro to this APR it will eventualy produce bigger bucks but it will take a few years.

        • Eric Lemmen

          No really they don’t Charlie one is going to give 35lbs of meat as the other is going to give 80lbs of meat to the freezer. Its always going to be better to shot the bigger deer and let the small on lives. Plus a big dry doe is going to give more meat than a small buck. make the ration for buck to doe a little better and go shoot a doe if you want to hunt.

  • Charlie Glocksine

    Total BS to push this agenda onto state land hunters. Get real people!

  • timberdoodledude

    Are size limits on fish “total BS?”

    • Charlie Glocksine

      I think we are talking deer here. And I would take a tasty doe any day.

      • timberdoodledude

        Obviously they’re different species. Explain to me how the principle of the regulation is different.

        • Charlie Glocksine

          Its ok to shoot a fawn isn’t it? A deer is a deer and fawns are shot every year.

          • timberdoodledude

            I don’t think there’s anything immoral or unethical about shooting a young deer, including a spike. I’ve done it in the past and make no apologies.

            But if the opportunity exists to build a better resource and a better hunting experience by protecting young bucks — and I think most hunters who are being honest with themselves would agree that seeing more mature bucks would be a better hunting experience — I think we should explore that option.

            If the opportunity comes at the cost of hunter success, then I say no way!

            However, everything I’ve read indicates that there would be a drop in hunter success during the first year APRs are implemented, and then pick right back up where things left off the following year — with the benefit of more mature bucks in the woods. I’m not sure how anyone could be opposed to that.

          • Charlie Glocksine

            Last year I saw 3 button bucks shot by 3 experienced hunters in muzzle season. So much for protecting young bucks. Button bucks are shot often in muzzle season because they are the most aggressive of fawns born when any type of food is involved.

          • timberdoodledude

            Your example does nothing to refute the effectiveness of the proposed regulation.

          • Charlie Glocksine

            Isn’t one of the main components of new rules to protect young bucks?

          • timberdoodledude

            Sure, but you don’t have to be an absolutist.

            You can’t protect young bucks from cars. You can’t protect them from coyotes. It’s difficult to protect button bucks… but it’s incredibly easy AND EFFECTIVE to protect spikes and forks.

            I support APRs but if a buddy shot a BB, I’d slap him on the back tell him “good job” and help him carve it up.

          • Charlie Glocksine

            I have tried to fill a couple doe permits through the years and have ended up with a spike. Really wouldn’t want to get a fine for a honest mistake especially if I had a valid license in my wallet.

          • timberdoodledude

            I could see targeting a doe and taking a button buck, but if you’re targeting a doe and take a spike, I’m sorry but that’s just negligent. That’s a failure to identify your target. If the same thing happened an you’d already tagged out, you most certainly would get fined for your “honest mistake.”

          • Charlie Glocksine

            If all deer would just stop at 30 yards and pose then I agree with you, but we both know that ain’t going to happen with deer. Your lucky to get 30 seconds to make your decision and deer are most always on the move.

          • timberdoodledude

            You must hunt farm fields. I hunt in the deep woods on public land and have never shot at a moving deer. Never will either.

          • Big T

            So…if it’s brown it’s…oh nevermind.

  • Cory

    There are two types of hunters; opportunistic and selective. Neither are wrong, but we need to decide if number or quality is important. I am selective for does only on private land that I hunt per property owner. I have seen scrub bucks and massive 12pts. My family eats atleast 3 deer a year, and I have an 8 pt hanging on the wall. I prefer meat in the freezer, but dont need to shoot a buck every year. Not gonna get bent about it either way, no reason too!

  • brad

    Best thing that could ever happen to the state land hunter
    Too bad the mucc doesnt take a stand behind the majority of michigan hunters and back these proposals

    • Drew YoungeDyke

      MUCC policy is based on resolutions submitted by members and voted on by delegates at our annual convention (which is next week). We’ve supported the NRC’s process and encouraged members to voice their own opinions. If you’re an MUCC member, though, you can always introduce a resolution for next year’s convention.

  • Christine Beattie Huff

    I am glad that they are doing this, I have seen and heard of too many hunters just shooting anything that moves, even if its a fawn just so they can brag about how many deer they got. My boyfriend has been hunting all his life and would never shoot a fawn or a button buck. Let them grow into mature does and bucks.

  • Mako Mark

    My family and I have hunted Lake County for 46 years we are directly off of the Center Line Trail System and in those 46 years we have only ever gotten 1 deer with more than 3 antlers on one side. This isn’t because of over hunting it’s because of poor antler growth due to poor nutrition. The area used to be a booming area for hunters now it’s dying. This is just another strangle hold on the area.

  • Rork1

    I used to think APRs were obviously bad for deer genetics (“high-grading”). They are nearly the reverse of what thoughtful game managers in Europe do, from what I’ve seen. Lately I’m less sure: more older males might at least give females more choices, and somewhat offset the selection against better males by hunters (which is there to some degree even without APRs, since we will tend to shoot the best ones anyway). I’d like a bit more concern about that.

    I’d like any economic analysis. Will we have more out-of-state tourists? Will value of property be altered? (Whether those are good or bad for you.) Examples from other states might tell us what to expect.

  • don

    I hunt for meat, not for horns and you can only take so many does before it hurts tho overall population. If your goal is to shoot big bucks, then get a group together an buy a big chunk of land and set your own rules. I would prefer to leave it as it is. The best way for the anti’s to win is get us fighting amongst ourselves.

    • dan

      What about those guys that can’t afford big chunks of land and can not hunt out of state. What about them?? Why can’t you just shoot a few does a year. Why do you have to take small bucks out of the equation before they reach maturity. Let everyone go after what they want. If you want meat, shoot a doe(it’s not like they are all over the place). If you want big bucks, hold out for that opportunity.

      I hunt 20-50 days a year on public and private. I will be lucky if I see one buck over 100 inches. When I hunted in Iowa/kansas I seen 16 bucks over 150 in 4 days. There is something out of wack in this state.

      • don

        Then go hunt in Iowa and Kansas. Stop trying to force your views on the rest of us. Also some of us don’t have the vacation time to hunt 20 to 50 days. If 60 to 80 percent in the area support this, then they should just voluntarily do it, let the rest enjoy the way they want to hunt. Like I Said before you can’t shoot all of the doe. I hunt for the meat, I shoot the deer and process it myself, I am not concerned trying to impress my friends with how big of a deer I shot. Divide and con core is what the anti want, let’s just respect what each hunters goal and support each other.

  • Jim Dabb

    Remember what we sportsmen/sportswomen fought for and won in 1996!! Scientific wildlife management, not political/personal whims/wants.

  • Bruce Welnetz

    I find this very interesting – when it comes to deer management, DNR gives considerable weight to the opinions of hunters; yet when it comes to wolf management first the decision is made, then DNR, MUCC and other organizations then cherry pick the science to support the decision.

    • Drew YoungeDyke

      You’re welcome to suggest specific regulations to the NRC for the wolf hunting season during the public comment section. The difference is that no one is advocating taking away hunting as a population management tool for deer from the DNR, it’s a matter of what the herd structure will look like within the population levels biologists determine are appropriate for the habitat. The anti’s aren’t suggesting specific regulations for wolves; they’re trying to take the public hunting management tool off the table altogether.

      • Bruce Welnetz

        All we want is the science -

        • Drew YoungeDyke

          That reply makes no logical sense as a reply to my previous comment. MI’s professional wildlife biologists have made their recommendations, I’m sure you’ve read the order memo and I’ve reposted it multiple times, so I’m not going to do it again here, but just because you don’t like the conclusions doesn’t mean they haven’t made scientific recommendations.

        • Junk Science

          You would be correct Bruce. Game management is to be by sound scientific management. We now have 3 laws stating the same thing, the Public Trust Doctrine, Prop G and PA 21. The DNR has said APR’s are social, therefore no “sound science.” Yet on the wolf as you pointed out, social need not apply. Cherry picking is correct, and the DNR/NRC are painting themselves into a corner. Sad thing is, its the special interests in our own sports pushing these “social agenda’s.

          • Bruce Welnetz

            We have now learned that 73% of all livestock depredations within WMU B was at one farm where the producer has poor animal husbandry practices. He also collected 82% of all depredation payments made in Unit B. If we exclude this producer, unit B had a total of 21 depredations since 2010. So, where is the justification for a hunting season? Tell me how this is NOT a trophy hunt?

  • herbie

    Timberdoodledude,

    I shot that spike two years ago with my pistol when he came through following what looked to be either a seven or eight point…. about an eighty yard shot, and I was just about as excited as I usually am when I get a deer with my recurve or longbow!

    Does anyone know if a two and a half year old is now considered “mature” if it has four points on a side? That as opposed to a five year old deer with fewer than four on a side?
    I like that statement Cory “neither are wrong” as opposed to others always trying to tell us we need to think a certain way!

  • snakeman

    This it to large of an area for APR! First we need to make ALL youth hunts for Doe’s ONLY! The taking of mature bucks before they pass on their genes during the rut has stagnated the chance for trophy deer!Make the youth hunt a ONE time only for life doe hunt! Only try APR in one or two counties with the larger numbers of deer in this area!

  • Rick in Union Lake

    I strongly disagree with APR. I’m a meat hunter and don’t believe my chances of getting meat for my freezer should be distroyed so that trophy hunters can have bigger racks hanging on their walls.

    • dan

      shoot a doe then

      • Rick in Union Lake

        I’d love to, and would prefer to, but getting a doe permit is almost impossible given that the large majority of quota goes to private land.

  • Gene Budd

    I am against setting a 3 point limit. GB

  • Big D

    I had my years of shooting anything that had horns in the name of meat hunting and got a buck or two every year plus a number of does. These would often be the only bucks we would see during our hunting season. Ten years ago we decided to give QDM a shot and now do not shoot anything less 8 pts and at least 3.5 years old. We did go a few years with no deer but have harvested a number of 10 pts or bigger ever since and see more bucks now than we ever did because we let them grow up so there are always more deer to see. Last year I saw bucks from 2-8 pts every day. I can tell you from experience I would rather take one 10 point that weighs in at over 200 lbs than a couple of spikes that rarely break 100 lbs in the end you get a lot more usable meat from the larger deer. I have 4 of them hanging in my office all from the last five years all scoring over 120. I never had a wall hanger before we started QDM and that covers over 40 years of hunting in Northern Lower Peninsula where hunting success has been down for several years We were fortunate that once out neighbors saw our success rate they all joined in and are experiencing the same success with 4 – 10 pts taken withinthe square mile we hunt in. I also enjoy hunting a lot more than when I was popping anything with horns and have more meat in the freezer now.

  • danny rhodes

    im against apr’s nothing but trophy hunts and bragging rights!! i choose to shoot bigger bucks but i have nothing against a person shooting any legal deer spike or 12pt its all about what a hunter gets out of there hunt!! my daughter shot her 1st buck last year and it was a 4pt she was in tears from the excitement and joy and thats what its all about and nobody should ever take that feeling away!!!

  • Ron W

    I have been hunting 32 yrs this season. I have one desire…have a deer on my wall from our property. I can’t afford an out of state hunt, or to buy 1000 acres. I passed on a spike and 5pt last year hoping this APR would pass and they could grow. I support this and believe it will make for a better hunting experience after a couple years. I am tired of just “filling the freezer”. And EGO is not the issue. I want it for ME! To look at and enjoy, reflect on all the years in the woods. I am tired of our neighbors that shoot anything just to brag “they got their deer”, that IS an EGO issue IMO.

  • cjhsa

    Keep your APR on YOUR private property. If you can. This is nothing but the desires of a few large landowners to further discourage deer hunting by those other than who they deem worthy

    Every liberal rule loving asswipe is gonna vote for this and hand those big bucks to those who can afford to draw them in.

  • PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL

    About 10 years ago they did this in Pennsylvania. The comments were much the same then as I’m reading here. In the years since, the deer herd has improved in numbers and the quality of the deer has improved as well. We are seeing much nicer sized antlers and much larger bodied deer as well. Our area around our farm is a 4 point on a side area….some areas are 3 on a side. The only thing I had to do to adapt to this was get a much higher power and larger objective lens scope for my deer rifle. I found it very hard to tell a 6 point from an 8 point…so being able to see the guard points was a must. I found out that the 4 x 16 x 50 mm scope was the answer. Good at lower power in the woods up close and being able to zoom in when the deer was out a ways in a field…especially with corn stocks as a back ground being close in color to antlers. So, I’m in favor of the change. I’v seen nothing but positives from the program. It also makes for a safer hunting environment as well. Hunters have to take a little more time to identify the antler size and this seems to curtail a lot of quick shots at anything that moves. You get to see if there may be another hunter in the shooting area of the deer.

  • Lonnie Hock

    You should get to shoot one buck,any size…..simple……besides who counts points!

  • JustSay NO to special Interest

    MI-QDMA is just another Special Interest group trying to push their agenda on everyone who does not think like them or hunt like them. It’s a shame they are causing so much division within the MI deer hunting community.

  • JustSay NO to Special Interest

    Another special interest group pushing their agenda on Michigan sportsmen. There is a rigged system that shows that 66% of all MI deer hunters want this,…. But do you realize that less than 6000 hunters will get surveyed?. Less than 6000 will get to vote?. Less than 6000 for the whole state?….Letting less than 6000 hunters speak for ALL 650,000 or so MI deer hunters and claiming 66% support, is bad bad policy.

    The survey is also biased from the start because they use the previous years deer hunter’s survey that has already asked the question of support for/against APR’s. The DNR already has access to, and knowledge of, 2/3rds in support from the previous years deer hunter’s survey.

    That’s like using a Presidential poll that favors one party by a 2/3rds margin and uses only that poll to vote for a new President..

  • Fishingfooltim

    My question is why don’t we have mandatory call in deer checks so that the DNR has an accurate account of what deer are being taken and where?

  • icefalcon

    I am for VOLUNTARY APR, not MANDATORY APR. No scientific reason for it. I am also for Doe-only youth/mentor hunts.

  • Great hunter

    I have been hunting for years. It seams that I let the smaller bucks go by and hopes to see them the next year and only see small bucks again. I never see any bigger buck. Its good land I hunt. So leting smaller bucks go dont mean they are going to grow big. Or we could have drought and the deer herd could all die off because of EHD or something then where are you at. And dont say it wont happen it did last year.

  • Researcher

    Wow, lots of uneducated people complaining on here. If ARR’s are implemented properly it IS sound scientific management. This is long over do. Our deer herd will be healthier, more productive and produce more pounds of venison per acre because of this. I for one will glad to put a lot more venison in the freezer when I fill my tag. I may have to skip a year getting my buck until they get bigger, but I’m not going to whine about that. I will be much better off in the long run and don’t believe that garbage about a buck tasting bad just because he’s older than an 18 month old. I have ate older bucks and they taste great too! I don’t have time to address all the misguided posts here, but I will quickly mention to the last poster (snakeman) that Michigan has already tried APR’s in other parts of the state such as Leelanau where it has proven to be very successful over the last ten years which is why this proposal has so much support.

  • Douglas

    This should be a personal decision , not a mandate or rule that is law . Especialy on private property .

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  • meat eater

    hunters have forgot what hunting is all about.it’s not the amount of bone on its head,it is the hunt, the tracking ,the kill, the butchering, the eating and reliving the stories . all hunters should not be held to apr so outhers can get a TROPHY.
    so when most of the deer have large racks what is a trophy now? to kill a deer just because of the amount of bone on its head is wrong! How much of this trophy tough meat gets thrown in the garbage at the end of the year?

  • Derrick E

    APRs make a better hunting experience for all hunters period. Only time will tell but I’ve seen first hand what letting the little bucks go will do for hunting. Our camp is in the U.P. We would average about 2 bucks a year for our camp, but more times than not, those were the only bucks that were seen. Most guys never even saw a buck and some hardly saw any deer at all. About 5 years ago we put a 6 or bigger APR at our camp and we also stopped shooting the does for a couple of years. It was rough for the first few years. But now everyone sees at least one buck if not more and a lot of deer. We let the small ones go, we harvest a couple of does now, but hunting is fun when you are seeing bucks and all the guys enjoy it even if they don’t get one because they get to see deer just about every time they post. Last year we put two bucks on the pole. One 8 point was the biggest I’ve seen shot out of our camp since I’ve been hunting there in the last 20 years. The other 8 point wasn’t too shabby either. I saw one 3 point that I let walk, but I saw deer every day, and so did most of the guys. I call it a huge success compared to what that land used to be like. It will be rough for a few years, but give it 3 or 4 years and hunting in these counties will become a MUCH better hunting experience.

  • Jay

    If I want to shoot monster bucks I will move to Iowa or Kansas. Not everyone can hunt all the time and wait for a big buck. I see deer as food not bragging rights or ornaments. I really don’t see how this benefits the deer Herd. There is just going to be a shortage of does rather than a shortage of big bucks.

  • No APR!

    Apr are the worst thing you can do for trophy deer management .. All your doing is killing the best genitic young bucks and protecting spikes and forks. No thought at all has gone into this..Do it right Manage by age MI ..

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  • wiseguywireless

    We have 160 acres, We didn’t hunt it for the past 8 years, Guess what! they are still all small. 8 year old deer and still no big racks. I shot a 6 point off of it this year, and the rack was pitiful. Glad I don’t eat the antlers. This law makes no sense to me.