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Antler restrictions could soon be statewide



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November 20, 2013 - Jason Bradley called it dumb luck.

The Groveland Township resident bagged a seven point buck on Nov. 16 in Lake County near Chase, north of Big Rapids.

"I was not using bait, the buck just walked up," said Bradley. " (The village of) Chase is in the new antler restriction area where three points on one side (is law). It (the law) did not necessarily impact the hunt. Most deer seen in our hunting camp were does. I think the new antler restriction will greatly increase the quality of the deer in the state in the next 3-5 years. States and areas that have imposed these type of laws have a higher quality deer population and a healthier deer population in the long run."

Bradley was just one of thousands of hunters in northern lower peninsula counties of Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola and Wexford that counted horns for the first time during the 2013 deer hunting season. The deer archery season opened Oct. 1 and the firearm season started Nov. 15.

Brent Rudolph, elk and deer leader for the DNR, said the regulation requires hunters to ensure antlered deer have at least one antler with a minimum of three points, with each point at least 1 inch long.

The process to make the change requires a DNR survey of deer hunters in the proposed area, which in this case found that 69 percent of hunters approved of the regulation.

A DNR antler restriction survey has been mailed out for southern Michigan, which includes Oakland and Genesee coun-ties that could impact the 2014 deer hunting seasons, said Rudolph.

"The surveys (to hunters) have just been mailed, so there are no results yet, but southern Michigan could be restricted to four points on one side," he said.

"They may hold off on that until 2015, but there's still a chance a restriction could be in place for next season."

Under the process, restriction must protect at least 50 percent of the yearling bucks.

"This ensures that restrictions impact the number of bucks likely to survive their first hunting season, leading to a herd with more, older bucks in it. We understand it's difficult to count points."

"With a mild winter, hunters should see bigger bucks in the 2014 season and even more in 2015. There may not be a lot of trophy bucks next year, but more than what we had," he said. "The population is not going to explode and communities overrun with deer—it's counterintuitive. Conversely, taking a doe would impact the deer population."

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