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MMSA writers against mandatory antler point

Dear Editor,

In a few weeks, a mere 2,000 hunters will say “yes” or “no” to mandatory antler point restrictions (APR), for Zone 3. The Lower Peninsula Deer Management Initiative (LPDMI) proposal limits first bucks to four points on a side. Another 2,000 hunters will decide APR for 10 northern Lower Peninsula counties, the first buck is limited to three points on a side. If you want to chime in on the decision, forget it, unless you completed a deer hunter survey in 2012 and are randomly selected.

This process approved by our Natural Resource Commission (NRC) permits a sponsoring organization (SO) to submit an APR proposal for a specific area if certain ground rules are met, a fee is paid and the SO holds public hearings in the area then a vote is held. The DNR sends random surveys and if the results achieve 66%, the proposal is presented to the NRC for ultimate approval or denial.

Why we are opposed to mandatory APR:

Proposal G was passed in 1996 which granted the NRC exclusive authority to regulate taking game based on sound science. The NRC should not entertain APR proposals? The DNR states there is no biological benefit from APR, the proposals are called social science!

Bucks are usually evaluated based on antler size with food source, age and genetics being the contributing factors. There are mature bucks with small antlers because of poor genetics. Mandatory APR does not work, harvesting the best and leaving the rest allows the scrubs to keep living, breeding and producing genetically poor quality off spring (bucks and does).

Many hunters cannot devote the time for hunting as in the past. Mandatory APR and especially on public land will surely discourage hunters. A hunter may hunt years before they see a buck with sufficient antler points to harvest. DNR estimates a 7% decrease in license sales as a result of proposed license fee increases. Every one dollar loss in license sales is three dollars reduction in federal funding. License sales under mandatory APR will negatively impact hunter retention and recruitment.

We live in Clare County and deer hunting is a tradition of families and friends and the hunting experiences that we share. A son’s or grandson’s first deer is a trophy regardless of sex or the # of points. In 1999, the NRC mandated a portion of Clare County as a 5 year demonstration area for APR, requiring at least 3 points on a side. This issue became and continues to be a wedge between hunters, land owners and other hunters. Five years later, 2004, APR was voted down. The DNR acknowledges there were no measurable improvements at the end of the 5 year program.

So Why:
Why should a small social group of 12-15 people dictate what the vast majority must live with?
Why should the DNR invest so much time on these proposals when there are surely priority issues like hunter retention & recruitment?

Why more regulation without a good reason, more DNR staff time to enforce?
Why not stick to Proposal G as passed by Michigan voters, APR offers no biological benefit?

Solution:
Hunters and land owners can practice their own deer management; APR, culling, doe & buck ratios, habitat improvement with food plots all on a voluntary basis without being mandated.

Hunters who would be satisfied harvesting a scrub rack that needs culling (inferior bucks) can enjoy a deer harvest and improve the herd genetics. Lets keep our deer herd healthy and in line with habitat.

Farm Bureau members and life time hunters realize our habitat can only support so many deer. We also realize older deer, especially bucks which travel a lot, are more prone to contacting a spreading disease which A.P.R. would intensify.

What you as a hunter can do is to talk to your hunting friends and write letters to your local papers. Folks that don’t know what is about to happen will get questionnaires and your job is to tell them the truth. As hunters we can’t just sit back and watch anymore, you folks need to help. If you as a hunter receive a survey/questionnaire around August, our hunting future and that of our children and grandchildren is in your hands. We ask you to choose wisely and vote “NO” to this antler point restriction for our counties in northern Lower Michigan.

Thanks and
good hunting,
Mid-Michigan Sportsmen Alliance
Officers Dave Cooper and Lynn Gould

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