Proposed changes to deer regulations in Zone D

FWC has finished reviewing the final report submitted by Normandeau Associates which detailed public input received from telephone surveys, web surveys, public meetings, and technical assistance group meetings regarding deer management in Zone D’s Deer Management Units (DMU’s). Below are two rule change proposals developed in response to the public input we received.

 Map of Zone D Draft Deer Management Units

Rule Change Proposal: Antler Point Regulations in Zone D

Antler Point Regulations

An Antler Point Regulation (APR) is a harvest strategy based on the minimum number of antler points that a deer possesses. Generally speaking, APRs are intended to protect younger and smaller bucks from harvest. FWC’s goal of implementing a APR is to protect yearlings (i.e., 1.5 years-old) from harvest while allowing the harvest of bucks 2.5 years-old and older. Because antler and body size generally increase with each year of age, an APR is likely to increase the average antler size and body weight of antlered deer harvested in Zone D.

Proposed Rule Change

FWC is proposing an APR in the portion of Zone D south of Interstate-10 (DMU D1) that would require a deer to have at least one antler with two or more points (each point one or more inches in length), and an APR in the area north of Interstate-10 (DMU D2) that would require a deer to have at least one antler with three or more points (each point one or more inches in length). Youth 15 years of age and younger would be exempt from APRs on private lands and on some WMAs (they could harvest deer with 5 inch or larger antlers). The purpose of these proposed APRs are to protect the majority of 1.5 year old bucks (yearlings) from harvest while allowing the harvest of 2.5 year old and older bucks. The goal is to increase the number of bucks in the population, improve buck to doe ratios and increase the size of bucks harvested. If approved by the Commission, the proposed rules would begin with the 2014-2015 hunting season.

New!The proposed APR for DMU D2 has recently been changed to also include the option to harvest antlered deer with 10 inch main beams.  This means a legal antlered deer in D2 if the proposal is approved would be either: one with 3 points on one side OR one with a 10-inch main beam on one side.

Give us your feedback on the NEW proposal for DMU D2 External Website

 

Give us your feedback on the proposed APR for D1 External Website

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is FWC proposing this change?

During public opinion surveys, public meetings and technical assistance group (TAG) meetings, hunters told us that they wanted to see more bucks and have a better chance to harvest larger bucks. While there are many ways to achieve this result, support was greatest for APRs. For more details on the results of assistance group meetings, you can view the full report here.

Would this apply on Wildlife Management Areas?

For an APR to be effective across the landscape and to reduce potential conflicts, we are proposing the DMU specific APRs apply on all land within DMU boundaries regardless of whether it was privately or publicly owned. If a property is split by a DMU boundary, the property would have 2 different APRs respective to the DMU boundaries.

Would this apply to youth hunters?

No. Youths (age 15 and younger) would be exempt from any APRs unless otherwise indicated by a WMA specific rule.

Why is the proposed APR different north of I-10 (DMU D2) versus the one south of I-10 (DMU D1)?

Antler characteristics are influenced by habitat quality. Due to differences in soil productivity and the amount of land in row crop agriculture, the habitat quality tends to be greater north of I-10 (DMU D2) than south of I-10 (DMU D1).  Harvest data from each DMU indicates that the APR that would most effectively protect male yearlings (1.5 year old bucks) from harvest while allowing the harvest of most 2.5 year old and older bucks is a 3-points-on-a-side APR north of I-10 (DMU D2) and a 2-points-on-a-side APR or “forked antler” south of I-10 (DMU D1).

What impact will this have on the number of antlered deer harvested?

We expect the antlered deer harvest in Zone D to decrease initially and then rebound close to current levels after 3-4 years. It is difficult to estimate what the percent decline will be the first year because many individual hunters, hunt clubs, private landowners, and some WMAs already have some form of an antler regulation.

What impact will the APR have on the size of antlered deer harvested?

Based on data collected from Wildlife Management Areas, the average antlered deer harvested post-implementation of these APRs could be about 15 pounds heavier and the average gross antler score according to the Boone and Crockett antler scoring system could be approximately 28 inches greater.

What proportion of each age class will be protected by the proposed APR?

The table below shows the estimated percent protection from harvest for each buck age class under the proposed APR for each DMU.  These estimates are based on harvest data collected from check stations throughout each DMU.

DMU

Proposed APR

Age Class

1.5

2.5

3.5

4.5+

D1

2 points on one side

83%

24%

9%

7%

D2

3 points on one side

89%

32%

10%

8%

 

Will this change the definition of an antlerless deer?

No. Antlerless deer will still be any deer (except spotted fawns) that do not have antlers or have antlers less than 5 inches in length. It is illegal to take spotted fawns.

 

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Rule Change Proposal: Antlerless Deer Season in Zone D

 

During public opinion surveys, public meetings and technical assistance group meetings in Zone D, hunters told us that they wanted to have more opportunity to harvest antlerless deer. However, hunters also expressed a preference for maintaining or increasing the deer population in Zone D. The proposed changes to the antlerless deer season format is intended to allow more flexibility with the general gun antlerless deer season without decreasing the overall size of the deer population. The technical assistance group (TAG) suggested we consider more antlerless deer days during weekends when most hunters prefer to hunt. For more details on the results of assistance group meetings, you can view the full report here.

FWC is considering changing the antlerless deer season in Zone D for the 2014 – 2015 season from its current 7 consecutive day format that begins the day after Christmas (December 26 – January 1) to 2 weekends (Saturday and Sunday only) of the general gun season in the portion of Zone D south of I-10 (DMU D2) and 3 weekends during the general gun season and 1 weekend during the muzzleloading gun season in the portion of Zone D north of I-10 (DMU D2). The specific weekends for the antlerless deer season would be as follows:

DMU D1

DMU D2

The first weekend  of general gun season (Thanksgiving weekend)

The first weekend of general gun season (Thanksgiving weekend)

The fourth weekend of general gun season (weekend after Christmas)

The first weekend of muzzleloading gun season

 

The third weekend of general gun season ( second weekend after general gun reopens in December)

 

The fourth weekend of general gun season (weekend after Christmas)

Give us your feedback on this proposal. External Website

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Would this apply on Wildlife Management Areas?

No, this proposal would only apply on private lands in Zone D. Antlerless deer harvest on WMAs is allowed only by area specific rules. Due to higher levels of hunting pressure and lower deer densities, we must be cautious with antlerless deer harvest on WMAs, particularly does. While antlerless deer are often legal to take during the archery season, additional opportunities could cause the deer population to decline.  

Why is FWC proposing this change?

FWC is proposing this based on feedback provide by the technical assistance group (TAG). In fact, the TAG, comprised of stakeholders in Zone D, identified the following as one of six goals for both DMUs: Increase flexibility in days for access to antlerless deer hunting without negatively impacting the doe population. The goals identified by the TAG and the rest of the public input we received were the result of a formal process in Zone D facilitated by third-party vendor, Normandeau Associates. For more details on the results, you can view the full report here.

Why is the proposed change in the Antlerless Deer Season different north of I-10 (DMU D2) versus the one south of I-10 (DMU D1)?

Deer herd productivity or thenumber of fawns produced per doe is influenced by habitat quality. Due to differences in soil productivity and the amount of land in row crop agriculture, the habitat quality and deer productivity tends to be greater north of I-10 (DMU D2) than south of I-10 (DMU D1). In addition, deer densities are generally greater north of I-10 than south of I-10. Therefore, FWC is proposing to allow more days of harvest opportunities in DMU D2. The proposed changes are intended to allow more weekend hunting opportunities for antlerless deer without negatively impacting the population.

Why is the proposed change in the Antlerless Deer Season in DMU D1 a reduction in days from the current format if the goal is to increase opportunity?

Though this proposal has a net reduction in antlerless deer season days for DMU D1, the proposal would increase the number of antlerless deer season days occurring during a weekend (a 2 day increase). It is important to note that a simultaneous goal for DMU D1 deer population is to maintain or increase the deer population. Because of the limited herd productivity mentioned above for DMU D1, this DMU would not be able to sustain the same level of increased harvest as DMU D2 while simultaneously achieving the population goal.

 

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