Antler restrictions and their impact on whitetail hunting have been highly debated over the past few years. Texas has seen favorable results in many counties under the antler restriction regulations (ARR), and they have increased the number of ARR counties. Some don’t want ARR, but they have worked for us. This is the way it was in my county, so I’m not speaking for everyone else, and that said we’ve been under ARR’s for about 5 years now. It has made a difference in bringing back the deer herd and the overall size bucks older than 3 1/2 years old.
That said, when you have a place that is surrounded by mostly open grazing land with limited amounts of deer cover and habitat, and then place hunting pressure on those small places for years, the chances of a buck, any buck, reaching the age of 3 years old is pretty slim. These ARR really help protect young whitetail bucks from being harvested as yearlings.
In past years, if you saw a buck you had better shoot it quick before he jumped into the other guys pasture, because if you were too slow you heard the familiar Boom after he jumped the fence. Now, we see bucks all season long. Sure, we can’t shoot them all, but the ones we do shoot are much better. We went from shooting little 6 point bucks to bigger, better 8 and 10 point deer.
Plus, the fact that does were not allowed in the past, a buck never had a chance. Plus, shooting every buck hurt the herd because of a lack of bucks. The result was buck doe ratio that was all out of wack. The result before the ARRs is fewer deer. The ARR helps improve the quality of deer over the years. It takes a little time to remove inferior bucks from a deer population.
It’s not a quick fix, and everyone that complains wants to see instant results. Hunters should not take a negative stand when it comes to ARRs because I was skeptical and it worked for us. If you don’t care about managing your herd, stick to shooting pencil horned scrub bucks and complaining that you don’t have any quality deer in your area. I had my doubts about the ARRs when they first came about, and I was used to just shooting any deer before the neighbor got it, but now I’ve changed my view after seeing that it works.