“Hunters love antlers,” write Realtree’s Will Brantley and Tony Hansen in an editorial that’s sure to stir up plenty of discussion. This obsession with big bucks, they argue, is key to understanding the debate that’s brewing in their home state of Michigan, where new regulations are being discussed. These updated rules may determine what hunters are allowed to claim each year, which could have an affect on whether hunters tag younger bucks or hold out for the elusive big bucks.

The authors understand both sides of the argument – those who take out the first deer they see each season, and those who are looking to maintain proper herd management. They see this issue as not just a local one, but one that’s playing out all across America.

Michigan does indeed kill an alarming percentage of its yearling bucks each year. I’ve seen data that indicates nearly 90 percent of all bucks born in Michigan each year are tagged by hunters before they see their second set of antlers.

big bucksBig-antlered bucks aren’t really freaks of nature as some might claim. Sure, 300-inch monsters are indeed genetic anomalies. But 130-, 140-, 150-inch bucks? They aren’t weird. They’re older. I’ve seen enough 3-year-old bucks in my area of southern Michigan to believe that most bucks reaching that age will be “big.” Thus it certainly makes sense to believe that allowing bucks to reach an older age will create a population with more big-antlered bucks.

Read the full article for insight into current regulations, proposed changes, and what that might mean to hunters in Michigan – and throughout the United States.

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Photo: Realtree