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Legal buck or not? (03/13/2013)
From: Ray A. Faber, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is considering whether to make permanent a deer hunting regulation for Region 3 that has been under trial for the last 3 years. It requires that any buck harvested must have at least four points on one antler. A meeting to gather public input was held in Winona on 27 February, but there was no newspaper or TV coverage of the event. This regulation is very important and public input is essential. If you wish to have input, go to the Minnesota DNR website, look in the NEWS area at the bottom right corner and choose “more news”. A story will appear on the next page titled “DNR seeks input on southeast Minnesota antler permit restriction.” After viewing a report on the restriction, you may fill out a survey to express your opinion.

My own opinion on this issue derives from 44 years’ experience in the wildlife field as well as 37 years of teaching courses such as Wildlife Ecology & Management and other ecological subjects. It is this: This is, in my professional opinion, the dumbest hunting regulation that I have ever encountered. I own 45 acres just south of Ridgeway. In March 2010, I looked out my living room window and counted 39 deer at one time! This deer herd is FAR above any reasonable numbers. It MUST be reduced. This regulation will decrease hunter numbers, decrease the kill, and most importantly, decrease harvest of does. Deer are crepuscular--they are most active just after sunset and just before sunrise. These are the times when distinguishing those 4 points on the antlers (or antlers at all) is just about impossible, especially for older hunters with aging eyes. If people do continue to hunt, there will be many small bucks left dead in the field and/or innocent hunters will get fined, have their guns confiscated, and lose hunting privileges. In my own case, that is a risk that I cannot afford. For my research I often need to get permits to do the work with wildlife. An offense such as that would preclude issuance of the permit--and my research career would be over.

To illustrate my point, please look at the accompanying photo of a deer that I took last fall (see page 1a). Imagine that it is just after shooting hours begin (or just before shooting hours close) on an overcast day. This deer is running 100 yards from you. Is it a legal buck or not? The answer may be found below.

The regulation was instituted for good purpose--that of protecting young bucks from early harvest. But the cost of such regulation is much too high. If this regulation is such a good one, why is it not being instituted statewide? If you agree with me, please go to the DNR website and fill out the survey. Better yet, contact your legislators (who will have the final decision regarding this regulation) and let them know your opinions on the issue.

P.S. The deer is legal, but only by 0.16 inch. The larger brow tine is 1.16 inches long. Could you distinguish that in low light conditions? 


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