Thursday, August 19, 2010

Texas Parks and Wildlife 13 Inch Antler Rule

In many parts of Texas deer herd management has completely fallen apart. It is not that some landowners are not good stewards of the land, many try to manage but it falls apart because of neighboring lands. In our area in Lampasas many of the bigger ranches have been cut up and sold off in smaller tracts. Quite a few of these landowners do not live on their place but come out to use it for recreation. Many have bought these tracts so that they have their own private hunting lease and their lease payments will be an investment in land. On the 330 acres my family hunts we have management minded hunters and only took three mature bucks last year and two does. The general attitude on the small tracts on either side of us is kill whatever is legal. One group has 28 acres with 4 feeders and blinds on it. I can stand at the fence line and hear all four feeders go off in the morning. On opening day it sounds like a shooting range and every legal buck along with any first year button buck spikes that come in to the feeders get shot. It was rare for us to ever kill a buck over 2.5 years of age because this is what goes on many of the small tracts in our area of the county. We along with one of the bordering ranches keep trying to shoot only mature bucks and once in a while we will take a good mature buck that had not yet made it to one of the small tracts.

Now that Texas Parks and Wildlife has the new 13 inch rule in place we are seeing the year and a half old six and eight points make it through the season as a rule. There is one group that is still killing bucks that I don’t believe would pass muster on 13 inch inside spread, but getting the game warden to be there at the right time is hard to accomplish. I realize that the rule misses a few bucks that should be taken out of the breeding pool and also leaves a few heavy horned narrow mature bucks on the range, but for the first time in many years I am seeing the younger bucks make it through the season with a promise of some larger bucks to come.

Think about this rule as I believe it will be of great benefit to those areas where many small tracts exist or where landowners refuse to practice good deer herd management.

• A legal buck deer is defined as having a hardened antler protruding through the
At least one unbranched antler; or
An inside spread measurement between main beams of 13 inches or greater.

Pick up a copy of the TPWD Outdoor Annual and make sure you understand the law. Have a great season and keep it safe, Wild Ed


Bio Bo said...

Since I hunt on public land in NE TX, I don't have the same problem w/ small tracts and their feeders, although there are private lands bordering the WMA's that utilize feeders. And since I too don't harvest immature bucks, I can appreciate your problems.
What I have specifically noticed about the 13" rule is that it thins out the hunters, unless there's a doe hunt. And as the season wears on they get less and less abundant. I especially like that part about it because I like to slip around a little and find new areas to stand.
The local game warden told me that they kill mostly spikes where I hunt, but once in awhile someone gets lucky and gets a nice one. He said he thought the 13" rule made people afraid to take one unless he was obviously legal.

bigchambers said...

Any tips on how to judge the 13" at a distance? I am a new hunter and would have pretty hard time figuring out which I could take.

Wild Ed said...

I have taught my girls not to shoot unless there is antler outside of the ears on both sides. I am sure they all have let a few close ones walk but that is what we need to do. I do not shoot unless they are well outside the ears or I just take a doe for meat. The goal is not to kill a 3.5 inch buck but the goal is to let the young bucks get older and breed before we remove them from the herd. I hope if it is close my girls will pass it up and hunt a mature buck or take a doe at the end of the season. Have a great season however you choose. Ed