Categories: Hunting

13-Inch Antler Rule: An Opinion

Texas in its infinite wisdom has for the past several years implemented a minimum width on whitetail bucks of 13 inches.

Now, I know 13 inches does not seem like much but does this regulation really serve the management of whitetail deer as it claims or is proposed to do?

For the past four years On my land we have been forced to pass up a buck who has went from a 12-inch-wide six point to a 12-inch-wide nine point with a 10-inch drop tine.  He is a mature buck and has never been wide enough to legally be taken. Good management says he needs to be removed less he impart his genetic inferiority to many offspring and keep these traits in the population, yet the letter of the law says no matter the age of these mature bucks you can not remove them. At the same time buck fawns and yearlings are legal to be killed. 

Would this buck be legal or would it “disappear” before you had a chance to calculate?

 The antlerless tags on a Texas license allow hunters to legally kill fawn bucks with only nubs on their heads yet you can not kill a four year old mature buck with a narrow rack.  On your same license you have a tag which can be used on a buck with an unbranched antler.  This includes yearlings with their first set of six-inch spikes.  What logical sense is their in promoting the killing of nubbin bucks and yearling spikes but not allowing the taking of mature cull bucks?

 In this writer’s view their needs to be a revamping of the laws. 

Maybe we need one tag to be used for a management buck and another for a 13-inch or wider.  Maybe we should allow spikes only during the first two weeks in a special season like does are. I don’t have all the answers but I do know we need to be allowed to remove narrow mature bucks from our lands more so than we need to kill nubbin and yearling bucks. All in all the 13-inch rule has improved the quality of bucks in East Texas and I see it as doing more good than harm yet I do not think we should rest on our efforts to continue to improve the overall health and quality of our deer populations. 

 Here is what I would suggest. 

One tag for a mature 13 inch or greater buck then a second buck tag to be used on a management buck. This buck may be one side not branched or one buck with a spread less than 13 inches but with at least four points on one side. The third would be a single doe tag that would be valid the entire season.  Fourth would be a special season during the first two weeks and the last two weeks in which a single spike buck with at least six inch spikes would be valid.  At no point would nubbin bucks be legal.

 Now that is just an opinion of mine I am sure some of you have better ideas or just as valid ones. It just makes no sense to me to kill six-month-old nubbin bucks legally yet be forced to allow mature cull bucks to walk.

Jeff Stewart

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