Restrictions produce better buck populations

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 7, 2008

Although it&8217;s too early to tell if the antler restriction in Barbour County will have the same effect, there&8217;s no argument that the restriction of three points on one side has had a significant impact on the white-tailed deer hunting at Barbour County Wildlife Management Area.

The WMA started its antler restriction program in the 1999-2000 season on the 20,000-acre public hunting area after asking hunters what they wanted.

Gray and Steve Ditchkoff, a wildlife professor at Auburn University, said those restrictions were a success.

Ditchkoff, who has more than 15 years of experience in white-tailed deer physiology and management, agrees with Gray&8217;s assessment of the Barbour County WMA antler restriction.

With the backing of local landowners and hunters, the remainder of Barbour County went under the same antler restriction as the WMA in 2004, but Gray says there isn&8217;t enough data to determine if the WMA success extends countywide.

Ditchkoff and Gray were also on a nine-person committee formed by Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley to study a buck limit in Alabama. Ditchkoff presented the committee report and recommendations last year to the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board, which voted to impose a three-buck limit, two of which can be any legal buck with antlers above the natural hairline, while the third buck must have four points on one side.

Ditchkoff thinks the entire state will benefit from the new buck limit, although it will be in varying degrees.

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David Rainer is with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.