Should Oklahoma deer hunters have a one-buck limit?

Although a growing number say limits would improve the quality of the herd, most hunters are opposed.
by Ed Godfrey Modified: October 13, 2012 at 11:15 pm •  Published: October 13, 2012
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“The antlers would just be a byproduct,” he said. “That's the focus of some people, but in my opinion, it's more biologically the correct thing to do for the deer herd and less about the antlers.”

The eventual result would be a healthier, more socially balanced deer herd with stronger bucks doing the breeding, Herje said. Oklahoma hunters would see more intense rutting behavior, he said.

“People would see things in Oklahoma that you don't get to see now but when you hunt in a state like Kansas or Ohio,” he said.

Shaw agrees Oklahoma hunters need to harvest more does and that getting a more balanced age structure is a good thing.

But the Wildlife Department worries a one-buck limit actually might cause fewer does to be harvested because hunters would spend less time in the woods with only one buck tag, he said.

Hunters can also manage their land for more mature bucks, if they choose to do so, he said. The Wildlife Department even will assist landowners in such deer management, he said.

“If they want to be more restrictive, that's well within their power to do so,” Shaw said.

The Wildlife Department will manage the deer population, first and foremost, based on what the science says is best for the animals, and secondly, based on what Oklahoma hunters want, Shaw said.

“We can provide ample opportunities and still have a thriving deer herd,” he said. “We can satisfy both sides of the argument.”

by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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Culling seemingly inferior bucks will not improve herd genetics

Shooting a young buck with seemingly inferior antlers to cull it from the deer herd will not improve the genetics of the herd, said Heath Herje of the Quality Deer Management Association.

“You can't make an impact on the overall genetics of a deer herd by harvesting one or a handful is what is deemed inferior or scrub bucks,” he said. “It's like a pail of water out of Lake Eufaula.”

There is a trend by hunters to take such animals out of a herd to improve the genetics, Herje said.

Not only does it not help, it could actually hurt the genetics of a herd, he said.

DNA testing shows that such bucks actually may produce offspring with record-size antlers, he said.

“The family tree of an individual deer is enormous,” he said.

Did you know?

Seven Quality Deer Management Association chapters are located in Oklahoma: Chandler, Enid, Okemah, Leonard, Ponca City, Tulsa and Seminole.

For more information, visit www.qdma.com or call (800) 209-3337.

What do you think?

Should the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation impose a one-buck limit for the deer hunting seasons? Send your opinions to egodfrey@opubco.com.

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