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Hi guys and gals...
As many of you know, we have had a deer registration station for the past couple of years and it is easy to see that by far, the largest number of deer registered at our station have been small bucks...spikes, forks and small basket racked yearlings. As we register these deer, we hear some of the hunters complaining that there are no big bucks around. "Well, I wouldn't have shot this small fork horn had I come across a big buck...and we really need the meat for winter." I can't argue that winter's venison is great meat...but did you really need it? And...can you see one reason why there might be a lack of big bucks in your areas? Now, I'm notjudging anyone for what they decide to take for a deer in the fall...but everyone should realize the consequences of shooting small, young bucks. In some jurisdictions, Natural Resources staff have responded to the Lack of big bucks in their province/state by introducing restrictions on just how small a buck you can shoot. An example would be Vermont where they introduced an antler size restriction in recent years and claim to be seeing the results today with older, bigger bucks carrying credible racks. I know this has been discussed here but I believe we all need to decide what we are going to be happy with personally...and then we'll either be hunting bigger bucks the next year...or killing off the small bucks "because we think we need that meat and the "bragging rights" of bagging a deer. At our check station, out of sixty three registered deer, at least forty to fifty were small bucks...had they lived and survived to next year...I wonder what we would have been hunting. Just imagine that!
 

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I think the core of the problem lies in traditional hunting methods and habitat / terrain feature here in NB. Let me explain.

In the late 70s and early 80s, the vast Crown Land territory was opened up to public access with a labyrinth system of roadways, and interjoining clearcuts. Road hunters have a ball using these grid systems and, although some nice bucks were taken driving and walking the cuts, the majority (75-85%IMO) were, and still are, yearling and juvenile bucks. Those less wary young ''studs'' are somewhat crepuscular in nature, following the doe groups, but are an easy target for the hunting mass (ie: road hunters).

Don't get me wrong, I shot a couple of nice bucks driving the roads, but if you want to consistently wrap your tag on a big antler base, you have to be willing to either stand hunt and / or do a lot of still hunting in the thicker / remote areas.

As we see a trend toward QDM amongst private landowners, and the continuing depletion of our Crown Land timber ressources, this 75-85% young buck ratio will start to shift somewhat, but I doubt that the serious trophy minded hunter in NB will ever outweight the hunting mass, which IMHO, consists mostly of road hunters and weekend strollers.

Go to DNR office when licenses are being purchased and ask 10 people buying a deer hunting licence if they have ever found / seen a decent rub line or know what a transition area is. You'll be hard pressed if 2-3 start a conversation with you.

NB as an engrained tradition of meat hunting (nothing wrong with that), and to this day, in this new era of ''bigger is better'' and trophy antlered deer pictured everywhere, unfortunately a lot of NB hunters still have a kwik trigger mentality when they step into the woods.

I think if Provincial game managers were to implemented longer and more varied opportunities at harvesting a deer for New Brunswickers (ie: late season shotgun / primitive weapons, shorter rifle seasons in the peak of the rut), only then we would have the opportunity to be more selective and to maybe, just maybe, get more chances at harvesting the buck of a lifetime.

Until then, for a lot of hunters, I guess the moto ''if it's a spikey me likey'' will stick....

Great topic starter Pred One.
 

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I think a point system would be great, if you couldn't shoot it until it had a visable G2 and G3.People dont realize that in a few years they would be getting a deer like always plus more meat.I know these deer will be smarter than they were when they were 1 but with the larger populations of more mature bucks these 2-4 yr olds will be out in the open more running from the monsters that i'll be in the bush after ,LOL.. Then giving the meat hunters more oppurtunities
 

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Personally, I think everyone should hunt their own neck of the woods and benefit or suffer along with the herd population. Maybe then one would see exactly what the results of shooting everything that's moving is. I would like see a point system but fear that will result in more lost deer or "camp meat". As it stands now, if it's legal (and not a fawn) I'll shoot it if I know my hunting time is limited other wise I'll wait. I typically don't see a lot of deer, let alone bucks so passing anything with horns above the ears is still hard for me. Maybe a trailcam so I know whats in my hunting zone would help.
 

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I am really glad this topic was brought up again.

Coincidentally, I was talking with a visiting QDM representative from Oregon today. He showed me a presentation he had on his laptop outlining the great number of benefits that their fairly new antler size rule has had on their herd. He also outlined how harvesting does was healthy for the herd.
In Oregon they have introduced a "don't shoot unless the antlers are wider than the ears" (from the tip of the left ear to that of the right). You would think that harvesting mature bucks would high-grade the herd, but what they have found (through satellite tracking/tagging and trail camera surveys ect..) is that the average age of buck in their herd has increased from 1.5 years to 3.5 years with a normal distribution that is skewed left (for all you biologists on the site). Essentially, their herd has aged.

I asked about whether shooting a larger proportion of older deer would impact the genetics and decrease breeding amongst the herd. QDM has found that older bucks don't do any more breeding than younger ones, so taking pressure off of the young bucks and shooting older deer (allowing the young bucks to grow into older bucks) has no negative impacts on breeding success.

Some of the by-hour tracking they did on the deer during the summer, fall, and winter months was awesome. Areal maps with colored dots representing different bucks and their locations from hour-to-hour gave me a look into the "disappearing buck" phenomena that occurs during the rut. One mature 4.5 year old that they had tagged had a route of about a 12 mile radius that he would travel during the pre-rut (late October) and he would only travel during the nigh-time hours. His total movement during light was only 500 meters. During the rut, he locked down into a core area where he stayed and traveled primarily during daylight and mostly on cool days (between -5 and 8 degs celcius). He never crossed a road, he traveled a smaller area in the woods all day. During breeding he hardly moved from the core area, sticking with his does. Similar patterns were shown for all bucks in the sample, exhibiting how the rut and temperatures can impact deer movement.

He said he would give the presentation to the QDM people any time. You boys are a tough crowd though, I can hear the "that doesn't apply in New Brunswick(s)" now...
 

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We don't have the deer numbers. I'm all for big bucks. The bigger the better. But with a small population it's hard to grow a herd to what I would be satisfied with.

I think a buck size restriction is great for me but honestly when we are only harvestijng about 3000 to 4000 bucks per year in New Brunswick I can't see an overwhelming change taking place. Only after 3 to 5 years might we see significant results. I have no problem not shooting a deer for 5 years. I'v done it a few times but I bet most hunters here in New Brunswick would ***** even louder if they couldn't put their tag on a spike horn over that same time period.

Our populations is just to friggin low!

We have to take the pressure off the small bucks if we are going to see 4.5 years and oldder monsters. But that is going to be tuff when the herd is managed to increase the overall population by restricting doe harvest

Pray for easy winters. Keep your mouth shut when you find a big buck

Save your money and go west!
 

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Holy SH&% fellas......

Predator one - you of all guys should know that the percent of mature bucks in the harvest in NB is phenomenal compared to any other state...except maybe Maine. YES - Vermont implemented a point rule because over 65% of their harvest was yearlings. They think it worked because the percent yearlings DROPPED back to 55%. In 2009 in NB, the percent yearlings in the harvest was UNDER 40%! We're already far ahead of most states. Look at the Percent mature bucks in the harvest in NBlast year in 2009 - 37% of our harvested bucks were 3.5 and older - what ws it in other states?? Maine - 19%, Maryland - 16%, New Hampshire 16%, Vermont 17%, New Jersey 16%, New York 7%, Penn 17%.
(you also failed to mention that Vermont STOPPED the rule because they thought they were hi-grading their bucks!)

Bucknut is exactly right - we're not shooting big bucks because the percentages are out of whack - we're shoting few because the herd is so stinking low!!

Before you cash in on something that will help us precious little, you better think about what happened in 2007-8 and 2008-9. We had two severe winters. What will be the effect of these on our bucks? Most guys know that of all the deer we lost (and we lost LOTS! - 24-34% of the herd)....of these losses, half the critters lost were FAWNS. Therefore, if we lost a pile of fawns in 2007-8, the smaller number of fawns that got through would have been yearlings the fall of 2008, and would be 2.5 in 2009, and therefore would be 3.5 year olds in 2010 - that's right - this fall! And everyone keeps crying "where are all the bucks!?" Well, we lost a crap pile of 3.5's back in the winter of 2007-8 when they were fawns. Can anyone explain to me how a point rule will help save the fawns we lose in winter? It won't.

A spike rule can work if it's done for the right reasons. APR's are done in places where hunting pressure is severe enough to remove at least 60% or more of the yearling bucks. You can't stock pile bucks fellas. If you"save them" one year, it doesn't mean you're going to get a pile more the next year. The percentages will change simply because you reduce the harvest of yearlings....but is this a real change in numbers of mature bucks? It might be if you're killing 80% of your yearlings, but if your only killing less than 40%, you won't see the difference translated into MORE big bucks until the herd GROWS
 

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Also,just noting this is the 2nd time in as many days that I've seen the "genetics card" played in regards to shooting big bucks vs. young bucks.A buck carries and passes on the same genes at 1.5 as he does at 6.5,so that's a moot point.
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Exactly
 

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You're right on about genetics Blondie and Fresh rub.

Guys - please print this off and read it - it is a VERY good synopsisi about the effect of APR's http://msucares.com/pubs/publications/p2427.pdf

This is what they said about the actual number of mature bucks in the kill after APR's "To determine if bucks protected at 11⁄2 showed up
later in the harvest as older bucks, we compared the number harvested per 1,000 acres on the 22 public areas. The number of 11⁄2-year bucks harvested declined from 1.9 to 0.3 per 1,000 acres - which was the intent of the antler restriction. However, the harvest of 21⁄2- and 31⁄2- year bucks increased only slightly while total buck harvest decreased from 3.1 to 1.8 bucks per 1,000 acres."

I think it's great to discuss this topic here......but we need to be a bit more open minded to why things are done elsewhere, and how they may help or hinder here.

There is a LOT more to QDM than APR's. It's a bout better deer and better deer hunting...and heaven knows we DEFINITELY need better deer hunting.
 

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You're right on about genetics Blondie and Fresh rub.

Guys - please print this off and read it - it is a VERY good synopsisi about the effect of APR's http://msucares.com/pubs/publications/p2427.pdf

This is what they said about the actual number of mature bucks in the kill after APR's "To determine if bucks protected at 11⁄2 showed up
later in the harvest as older bucks, we compared the number harvested per 1,000 acres on the 22 public areas. The number of 11⁄2-year bucks harvested declined from 1.9 to 0.3 per 1,000 acres - which was the intent of the antler restriction. However, the harvest of 21⁄2- and 31⁄2- year bucks increased only slightly while total buck harvest decreased from 3.1 to 1.8 bucks per 1,000 acres."

I think it's great to discuss this topic here......but we need to be a bit more open minded to why things are done elsewhere, and how they may help or hinder here.

There is a LOT more to QDM than APR's. It's a bout better deer and better deer hunting...and heaven knows we DEFINITELY need better deer hunting.
Great stuff here.
Axeman, what would be your opinion of an antler restriction on a unique place like Grand Manan?
As you know we have many smaller deer, there are usually fifty percent more males taken than females.
Very easy winters and no predators, but we do have MANY spikes etc taken every year.
Surely the island is a unique place to readily observe the results of any changes made....
 

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First of all the province is broke! Do you really think any changes are going to be made. Change means cost and they don't have a pot to pee in! Wishfull thinking. Watch for more cuts. They only thing they are going to do is allow more crown land to be cut down which in turn adversely affects all of us on this site. Except for one guy that seems to find a way to justify clear cutting. I guess I would to if I earned a paycheck from it.

The only change you might see is the moose situation. You might see more tags because that generates more money. It's the government. They are slow as molasses and don't often listen to the public.
 

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Should be a 170" rule in place. Nothing under 170" can be legally taken.
LOL! we'd kill about 10 deer a year then!

Cdog - on Grand manan it would really depend on your goals for the Island. What do you want there? Years ago Grand Manan hunters wanted BIG bodied deer, and they did a study there to find out why the deer were runts. Concluded it was the island habitat - shallow soils, not much for browse. When they tried to do something to increase the size of deer, they decided to kill a few more does and reduce the deer density - more food per critter. However, now that the herd has declined a bit, some hunters aren't so sure that they want a lot less deer - maybe not so few that the remaining deer are bigger.

Have you ever seen the buck that was roadkilled just outside of Seal Cove a few years back? Jeff Benson has it at his camp.... Huge rack - and would rival any mainland buck rack. Also, another bowhunter shot a Pope and Young buck on the north end of the island just a few years back. Obviously, you have the genetics. I think you'd need a bit more information before anyone could give you "advice" on what to do on the rock. what do you want to produce there, and what are you killing. Most plaves harvest about 1/2 their bucks as yearlings, and I wouldn't be surprised if GM had more spike bucks (in the yearlings) given the habitat, than the mainland. From what I hear there are "new" problems this year on the rock...like two hunters per stand from outside places!
 

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LOL! we'd kill about 10 deer a year then!

Cdog - on Grand manan it would really depend on your goals for the Island. What do you want there? Years ago Grand Manan hunters wanted BIG bodied deer, and they did a study there to find out why the deer were runts. Concluded it was the island habitat - shallow soils, not much for browse. When they tried to do something to increase the size of deer, they decided to kill a few more does and reduce the deer density - more food per critter. However, now that the herd has declined a bit, some hunters aren't so sure that they want a lot less deer - maybe not so few that the remaining deer are bigger.

Have you ever seen the buck that was roadkilled just outside of Seal Cove a few years back? Jeff Benson has it at his camp.... Huge rack - and would rival any mainland buck rack. Also, another bowhunter shot a Pope and Young buck on the north end of the island just a few years back. Obviously, you have the genetics. I think you'd need a bit more information before anyone could give you "advice" on what to do on the rock. what do you want to produce there, and what are you killing. Most plaves harvest about 1/2 their bucks as yearlings, and I wouldn't be surprised if GM had more spike bucks (in the yearlings) given the habitat, than the mainland. From what I hear there are "new" problems this year on the rock...like two hunters per stand from outside places!
The buck Jeff killed was certainly the exception, however, how does a deer get that big with poor browse?
There is no question the average deer size is smaller here, as for the genes, well the deer came from mainland nb.
As far as there being fewer deer, that a load of crap, there everywhere!
Personally I would rather see half as many deer twice the size..
You wont likely see a deer like jeffs over a apple pile at three in the afternoon!
The island will be painted yellow this coming fall, watch n see...
 

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I am not sure were you all hunt but there are all kinds of huge bucks around.The fredericton area,jemseg,hampton,belle isle,ect ect is crawing with them.Scotch town,douglas harbour,grand lake.especially keswick ridge,scotch lake and bear island.
I don't think anywhere in New Brunswick is crawling with big bucks. Are you sure you didn't dream this?
 

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There are 500 doe tags for the island.
There were 273 deer taken total this fall.
There is almost always 50% more males taken than females.
I beleive the doe tags have made for LESS does taken!
What if you had to cash in on your doe first, then get your buck tag instead of holding it for a ''ill use it only as a last resort if i dont get my buck ticket'' thats what is happening.
When I say buck I mean a spike over a bin of apples that were brought from the mainland!
Since the tractor trailer loads of apples began appearing, people are happy to sit on them and complain about seeing no big deer??!!
The ''french'' invasion was a shock, and a trend we hope doesnt get worse, we dont want to see yellow sines everywhere, but what are the options?
 

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I don't think that many people "need" the meat in this day and age, but what is the big deal about harvesting a legal deer that gets "trophy" hunters so wound up. Cripes, institute a point minimum, watch our deer harvest go from 5000 to 1000 animals, what a great way to get new hunters excited about hunting!

As I've said in this forum a dozen times, in order to decide if a point minimum is a good idea for NB, you have to understand what the general hunting public wants. If most are happy to go out and tag a legal buck, let them enjoy this without scrutiny(only about 1 in ten is harvesting a deer any way). Everybody is not Obsessed with huge antlered bucks. I am sure that everyone would love to tie their tag to a 200 lb 10 point every year, but its not realistic. The old bucks are around, for those who want to pursue them, go to 'er. It is a hard business hunting these bucks, and I applaud those who do it with any amount of consistency. But expecting everyone else to hunt with unrealistic high standards to increase YOUR chances at a big buck is selfish.

Keep in mind most of these point restriction hunting areas have lots of alternative tags for hunters who want a feed of wild meat. Ample doe tags, and in some places oppurtunities at other varieties of game, that we don't have. Leave the meat hunter alone - maybe he doesn't need the meat to survive per say, but if he enjoys it, he's got one measly tag, what to hell is he hurting?
 
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