A deer hunting group, The Lower Peninsula Deer Management Initiative (LPDMI) is proposing antler point restrictions that would limit the number of yearling bucks in the annual harvest to 50 percent or less of the total harvest.
Tony Smith, the President of LPDMI said, “The purpose of the proposed regulations is to secure a higher protection rate of 1.5 year old (yearling) bucks in the annual harvest and advance them to the next age class.” Currently, 67 percent of antlered bucks harvested in the Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP) are yearlings, 58 percent in the Northern Lower Peninsula (NLP).
Protection of more than 50 percent of yearling bucks would require a 3 point on a side restriction in the NLP and a 4 point on a side restriction in the SLP.
The LPDMI submitted the proposal to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) on April 1, 2013. Discussions about changing buck harvest regulations were started with the MDNR in December, 2011.
The process for submitting new APR proposals is determined by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC). The process requires that any proposal must be evaluated by the MDNR and provide at least a 50 percent protection rate of yearling bucks, and that the proposal not be detrimental to the health of the herd.
“The LPDMI will facilitate 14 public information meetings and fund, through donations, a survey to be conducted by the MDNR. This survey must reach a 66 percent level of support to be considered for a 5 year test period by the NRC starting in the fall of 2014,” Smith said.
The proposed regulation change will advance the un-harvested 1.5 year old bucks to the next age class where the average 2.5 year old buck in each respective zone will be eligible for harvest.
According to Smith, antler point limits that are currently in place in other areas of Michigan have shown that buck harvest numbers only dip slightly in the first year of implementation, and then return to historic levels in subsequent seasons. These areas also enjoy high levels of hunter satisfaction and support because hunters are seeing and harvesting older bucks with larger antlers.
As an example, Leelanau County (Deer Management Unit 045) enjoys a 72 percent level of ongoing support for APRs that have been in place since 2003. Leelanau county hunters also harvest the highest percentage of 8 point and larger bucks, higher than any other County in Michigan with an annual harvest that is made up of nearly 50 percent 3.5 year and older bucks.