In some states, Antler Point Restrictions (APR) are designated by the Department of Natural Resources as a strategy aimed at improving the overall quality of bucks, but the definition of quality is up for interpretation and has hunting communities in states, like Wisconsin, on the verge of breakdown.
Wisconsin does not currently have an APR in effect, but a recent online petition to convince the Wisconsin DNR to institute one has gone viral in recent weeks and it’s stirred quite a controversy.
While APR’s certainly have proven an effective means of increasing the average age class and overall size of bucks in those areas, the results come at a cost. Limiting deer hunters to only harvest bucks with four or more antler points on any given side of his rack may mean some hunters closing out a season without a harvest. Motivation is just as much a condition of success as it is a result of it, but failure is a deterrent and plagues future hunts with lackluster ambition.
It’s no secret anymore, so why not be blunt with it – several perpetuating influences have pushed the “BIG BUCK AGENDA” down everyone’s throats. There, I said it. Suddenly people feel obligated to apologize or make excuses if they harvest a buck that doesn’t earn applause from the masses. Let’s be clear about one thing – in today’s world, hunting is personal. And why shouldn’t it be? Social media has given the world a platform to share photos and videos of their successes, but opinions are subjective and while often colorful, there’s a heavy gradient in the shades of gray that are painting a demoralizing picture of what hunting is turning into.
Will introducing an APR’s into a state, like Wisconsin, benefit hunters holding out for mature bucks with larger racks – yes. Will introducing an APR eliminate opportunities for less picky hunters – absolutely. Do less picky hunters have a right to impose upon what constitutes as a big buck to trophy hunters – certainly not. Why then is it acceptable for a select population of hunters to determine what caliber of buck the less picky hunter can harvest?
Whitetail hunting is modernizing quicker than contemporary fashion, and some hunters are a touch avaricious, as well. To each their own. Who are any of us to judge what motivates another hunter? I’ve witnessed hunters demoralizing other hunters more times than I care to count, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid that “guy” in every crowd who knows a guy that shot one bigger. I’m all for targeting mature bucks and letting the little ones go so they can grow, but take away my children’s right to select what buck is deemed suitable for harvest and be ready for a fight.