Are Texas’ Antler Restrictions Working?

Question: Some counties in Texas have antler restrictions on bucks that can be legally harvest. I hunt in one of these counties now, but for you guys that have been in these type counties for a while, is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s antler restriction program working? Has the whitetail hunting improved? My lease buddies and I just don’t seem to see any increase in buck antler size that is proving to me it is working?

Answer: Yes, the buck antler restrictions are working, and no I’m not being biased. I live and hunt in one of the first counties that were experimental. Yes, it took a few years to see the difference, but the regs did have an impact it on the buck age and antler quality. Before the antler regs, you could not find a buck with antlers no more than the size of your hand with both thumbs overlapping.

However, once implemented, we were still a 1 buck county as the other 5 counties and hunters were not going to use that tag on anything other than either a buck with 6 points on one side, a buck with a 13 inch inside spread or greater, or an unbranched antler (spike) on at least one side. The 6 point on one side was thrown out after the first year or two.

Sure, deer hunters saw numerous whitetail bucks that could have been shot the previous years, and the majority of those were 1.5 to 2.5 yrs old, but as time went on for 2 or 3 seasons, residents and hunters in those original counties were seeing bucks that had better antler growth, better body mass, and older due to letting them walk (because of the regs). Antler restrictions worked in my part of Texas, but it will take some time for them to work.

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