Antler restriction proposal was destined to fail

When DEC Commissioner Grannis announced recently that the department had dropped plans that would have created antler restrictions (AR) for deer hunting in eight wildlife management units of the northern and Western Catskills. The restrictions would have meant only bucks sporting at least one antler having a minimum of three points would be legal game during the hunting season. The current statewide regulation states a legal buck is any deer having at least one antler at least three inches long.

This would have meant all yearling bucks sporting spikes or forked antlers would be protected, and basically would have meant the majority of bucks taken would be at least 2.5 years old. The plans were dropped following a public comment period that drew both strong opposition and support. DEC officials had said beforehand that that they wouldn't endorse the restrictions if more than 20 percent of the hunters in the areas were against it, which is apparently the case.

This, at least to me, was a classic case of New York’s legions of sportsmen literally shooting themselves in the foot, and making DEC’s role as a natural resource manager even more difficult than it should be. Call it special interests, demographics, or whatever, it boiled down to deer hunters not being able to agree or for that matter, compromise on an issue being supported by one group but opposed by another group. So the end result is neither group will probably be happy with the results.

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