The Facts

bipolar buck draft 6Let’s face it, as sportsmen and sportswomen, we all want the opportunity to see more bucks and see and harvest bigger bucks.  We have a history in Michigan of killing off most bucks when they are 1.5 or 2.5 years old.  But bucks don’t even begin to reach their full potential in antler and body development until they are 3.5 or older.  If we want to see more and older bucks, the number one thing we can do is to let them grow an extra year or two.

Leelanau County has had antler restrictions in place since 2003.  And even though they are a northern Lower Peninsula county, and therefore have less nutrition than some of the southern counties, hunters in Leelanau county harvest more big, old bucks per hunter than hunters in any other county in the state.  When the DNR did a survey there in 2008, 72% of hunters and landowners were in favor of keeping the rules after living under them for five years.

Not only that, but the DNR and NRC are currently considering expanding those rules to 12 other counties in the region, based on another survey in which 68.5% of hunters were in favor of instituting a 3 on a side antler restriction.

Better Deer Hunting Starts Here

We are now proposing that the rules be expanded to the entire Lower Peninsula, but with some slight changes.  Bucks tend to grow bigger in the Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP) than in the Northern Lower Peninsula (NLP).  So our proposal is for a 3 point on a side restriction on the first buck in the NLP, and a 4 point on a side restriction in the SLP.

29 Responses to The Facts

  1. Curtis Stone says:

    Hey, I know and respect a lot of you guys, Tony, Jim and Jason. I respect what you are trying to do. I think that with a lot of hard work, and working with the Wildlife Division, that the same goals could be reached by educating hunters instead of trying to control their behavior through regulations. Many, many hunters practice voluntary restraint by self imposed APR’s but just do not think restricting another hunters choice is the answer. Good luck in your endeavor and see you at the meetings. Curtis “da Appleknocker” Stone

  2. LPDMI says:

    Curtis, thanks for your cordial comments. Without question, everybody who is pushing for mandatory APRs also believes that voluntary APRs are a great thing. Many private land owners have had great succes creating local deer cooperatives. But we must not forget the many people who hunt on public lands, especially in the north part of our state. A number of the members of the LPDMI board are public land hunters. They do not have the option to form cooperatives, and are stuck with the probability that if they do not shoot a buck, it is going to be shot by someone else nearby. It is not that they do not want to practice voluntary APRs, it is just that if they do practice them, they may not get a deer at all, especially if they are in an area with limited or no antlerless permits available.

    In fact, it is those counties with the most public land that are suffering with the greatest declines in hunter numbers. We believe that mandatory APRs will help those hunting public land more than anyone else. We strongly support voluntary APRs, and support you in your efforts to foster them. But they help only a minority of private land owners who happen to live in an area where their neighbors are willing to work together.

  3. Gerald Nutt says:

    simple is what we need 1 buck per hunter per year 4 pts or better one side
    It does not get any easier than that

    • LPDMI says:

      Gerald. It sure would be great to have a one buck rule in Michigan. I think most of the LPDMI team agrees with you on that. But we also feel that the hurdles are a lot higher to achieve it than most people think. On the other hand, APRs have been very successful in Leelanau County and DMU 122. As far as 4 on a side goes, while it would simplify things, it would create an imbalanced regulation because yearling bucks in the north part of the peninsula have fewer antler points as yearlings than southern deer do. A 3 on 1 side in the north has the same impact on buck hunting as a 4 on 1 side in the south.

  4. Gerald Nutt says:

    I am very excited about this movement

    hope it works

    I gave up deer hunting in Michigan 12 years ago and have been going out of state ever sense,

    In doing so I have learned that it is every ones fear of change that holds this state back

    if we can get past that Michigan will have something great



  5. Cliff Seeley says:

    I think what you’re trying to accomplish is needed if we want to attract more trophy hunters to our state. There are a lot of us, however, that hunt for the joy and love of hunting, not just to hang big racks on the wall. We are just as proud to take a savvy old doe as a big buck, or a yearling buck for that matter. In fact, some of my most memorable hunts weren’t even “successful” hunts. Don’t take this wrong, I like to take big bucks as much as the next guy and even have a few wall hangers myself, but the issue is much bigger (no pun intended) than just having a set of trophy antlers to hang on the wall. What works in the UP and NLP may not work in the SLP due to a vastly higher human population. Over half of all deer-car accidents happen in the SLP and if deer become an even larger problem for non-hunters…. well let’s just say there are a lot more of them than us. I don’t see how you can be successful unless you address the deer management issue as a whole, not just the bucks to appease the trophy hunters. I would love to see Michigan’s deer management problems addressed, but, in my opinion, this initiative implies that deer hunting is all about the size of the rack and is not a valid or scientifically based deer management effort. I believe you would be more successful and gain more support by working with the DNR and wildlife biologists to come up with a true “Deer Management Initiative” that would result in a better managed herd overall, as well as producing bigger more mature bucks.

    • LPDMI says:

      Cliff, thank you for your well thought out comments.
      First, this is not a trophy deer initiative. It is an effort to reduce the harvest of 1.5 yo bucks in the annual harvest, Michigan holds the distinction of leading the midwest, by a wide margain, of killing a disproportionate number of 1.5 yo bucks. It’s likely that limiting the number of antlered bucks for the first year, or maybe 2, will result in increased antlerless harvest where needed. Antlerless harvest reduces and controls overall deer numbers, not buck harvest.
      It’s been my experience that when bigger bucks with bigger antlers are available, that hunters have a higher level of tolerance for lower overall deer numbers, the ‘ol quality over quantity scenario.
      The MDNR needs happy and engaged hunters to reach, and maintain, healthy deer densities across the whitetails range. Hunters have indicated time and time again that they want to SEE and hunt a herd with more and older bucks. This proposal addresses those wants while still not having a negative biological impact on the deer herd otherwise it would not be considered.
      You and I agree, my most memorable hunts did not result in a kill but instead seeing deer react to their surroundings naturally, especially bucks…of all ages.
      Going back to my persoanl experiences. I have been actively promoting QDM deer management cooperatives across the LP for over a decade. This has been on a micro level, and the results, and success stories have been impressive, all while working along side the MDNR, in fact, the MDNR staff has been encouraged by leadership, to support the co ops when ever physically possible.
      The MDNR is managing our state’s deer herd on a macro level and adjusts antlerless quotes on an annual, as needed, basis. This APR will address antlered harvest and the exploitation of a single age class of bucks annually.

  6. Adam Waszak says:

    I have to say in the last ten years I have gone full circle. Ten years ago I would have said no way. After seeing the debates and the information being laid out there by many organizations as well as hunters from the APR areas I am excited to support this and see it become a reality in this state.



    • LPDMI says:

      Thanks for your comment and support Ganzer.
      I think there are a lot more hunters out there like you who are ready for a positive change in MI’s quality of hunting. Hopefully more hunters will take a little time to look at the information and facts about what APRs have done in other areas.

  7. Joel Dillard says:

    Love the initiative! I recently lost my rights to hunt a great piece of land in Lapeer County where I had a decent, but limited chance of seeing big deer. It was difficult to watch the little guys pass by because I felt like it was almost a certainty that they would end up getting wacked on any of the surrounding properties. The thought of now going to state land and knowing with almost absolute certainty that any young deer I passed-on was going to be gone by the end of gun season was discouraging to the point I have considered hanging up the bow until I can find another private parcel with potential for a quality deer. If an initiative like this was to be made into law, it would make the quality of public land hunting increase considerably. I know it sounds like a raw deal for all the meat hunters out there, but I would imagine that there would still be enough does running around to fill the freezer and I think it the long run it will increase everyone’s quality of hunting because even the meat hunters among us still get the blood pumping a little more when there is that small chance a big one might walk out instead of that doe!

    • LPDMI says:

      Thanks for the comments Joel!
      Remarkably some of the biggest opposition to this proposal is coming from a group that claims that APRs are an attack on “the traditions and rich heritage” of Michigan deer hunting. They conviently ignore the drastic loss of hunters across the state 21% in the Yoop, 19% in the NLP, and 4% in the SLP (5 year avg.). Current regulations do not address hunter desires to SEE more and older bucks while hunting, as indicated by MDNR surveys.
      Hunters in Leelanau County are happy with APRs to the tune of 72% ongoing support, private and public hunters alike and they are consistanly retaining their hunters.

  8. Nathan Wilson says:

    I am a firm believer in shooting does for meet and letting small bucks go so they can grow, you cant eat the antlers anyways. The perfect buck to doe ratio is 2 does to every 1 buck so we have to do our part in getting the doe population down to a good level. I know alot of guys who do 4 on one side or an 8 point ears or wider limit which is a great start but with the right genetics that doesnt take some bucks that long to reach that minimum. Maybe we should have an age limit where the 4 on one side would take affect so young hunters can get the joys of bagging a buck even if its not huge just a thought. let them go so they can grow.

    • LPDMI says:

      Nathan, thank you for you comments. The LPDMI proposal is posted on the site. You’ll notice that we asked for exemptions for all Special Youth Seasons as well as ANYONE hunting under the Apprentice License. In addition it’s important to know that the Mentored Youth License is good for ANY deer, by statute.
      In the VERY rare situation where a buck 4.5 or older fails to meet the required number of points under these regulations, feel free to turn the kids loose on him!;)

  9. Terry OBerg says:

    I pray that this passes. I am fortunate to own my own farm in Jackson county. I have been doin my own qdm for 5 years an pass many small bucks in hopes for a larger 3.5 or older buck that’s all I will shoot. We have so many deer around me I don’t understand the need to shoot little bucks. Doesn’t make you a good hunter as young bucks are not very smart. It is nothin for me to see 15 to 20 deer on a hunt so I shoot does. It is frustrating knowing I’m putting in food plots,bedding areas and lots of other work only to hear my neighbor shoot a little 6 or 8 point yearling buck when if you want meat you can shoot a doe. Especially when you know they are not gonna mount or eat the horns. Good luck lmdmi in your quest to get APR restrictions. I have contacted the DNR and voiced my support for it.

  10. Terry OBerg says:

    I have seen first hand the results of qdma as every year I have several mature bucks moving thru my property that I see as a result of letting them go. That was not the case befor
    e I started doin it. Maybe 1 or 2 if I was lucky.

  11. Dennis Bender says:

    This is a bad proposal that will give benefits (if any) to the able-bodied and will more restrict those that live with restrictions every day of their lives. It will more greatly divide those that have from those that do not have. There is not one study that has shown that public land hunting benefits in any way close to that shown may possible for those that have controls over large areas of private land. Using Leelanau as a barometer for Michigan as a whole is pure illusion.

    • LPDMI says:

      Good to see you stop by Dennis, and thanks for your opinion. We summarily disagree on the impact APRs will have on public land hunters, they stand to gain the most.

  12. Matt Zielinski says:

    I am all for this proposal and its about time. I hunt on 2 different farms in Shiawassee and Genesee Co., lots of food, cover and has a good buck to doe ratio. I see more little younger bucks then older ones. Ive gotten a few 2.5 y/o bucks over my 35 years of hunting and just last year I shot a nice 9 pt, 3.5 y/o buck for the first time. Letting the bucks grow and mature 1 or more years will really help. Ive seen and heard so many years that when I let these little spikes, 4’s, ect. go by, to the “neighbors” property on all sides, they just start blasting away, like last year. On opening day I let 4 small rack bucks go by only to have the neighbor blast this small 4 pt. Brown its down I think the Michigan hunters call it. If someone needs venison that bad, “SHOOT A DOE”, there are more of them. I think we need to go away from the 2 buck tag and go to a 1 Buck, 1 Doe combo license if people need venison that bad. I’m not a trophy hunter and if I don’t get a deer, no big deal. I love being in the woods and being surounded by all of the wild life. Like I said, its about time and I hope this passes.

    • LPDMI says:

      Thanks for the comments Matt. We have approx 2 months before surveys hit the mail and there’s a mountain of work to be done. We welcome any help we can get either by helping distribute brochures and hanging posters, talking up the proposal with friends and family, or with a financial donation. We would love to be able to afford some strategically placed billboards arround the LP. Consider a donation if it’s within your means!

  13. Scott shepherd says:

    Best idea ever!!! I hunt in huron county mi. State land. I do practice passing yearlings and go for 8s or bigger. This would be great and would lover for your team to come in huron county and look at are trophy potential. No joke we would haverst monsters with r food source. Keep working definatly voting yes.:)

  14. Gary says:

    Who eats horns. Michigan DNA has already instituted restriction in the U.P. and from what I’ve seen it isn’t working. Year after year same thing, spikes and small forks. Michigan DNA increases antler size and hands out double the doe permits. Lets get rid of all the doe permits. DNA tells you deer herd is up, bull crap. It’s down so much from 1970’s it isn’t funny. If you want changes get rid of baiting and get back to hunting. I bet your yearling buck taken will fall like you want and they will grow like you want. And don’t forget that genetics and food source plays a large amount in your antler growth wishes.

    • LPDMI says:

      Thanks for the comments Gary,
      What is Michigan DNA.
      FWIW, The UP does not have a Mandatory APR, it has Hunter’s Choice. Any one can shoot any buck they wish that has at least a 3″ ANTLER not horn.

  15. Philip says:

    Having grown up in TX, and seeing first hand how a simple regulation has dramatically improved the hunting experience, I say this is an idea that is overdue. I grew up in a county that regularly produced ‘bucks’ that dressed 75 lbs with 9-10 inch inside spreads. After these restrictions began, it is common to see bucks dressing 120-140 with 18-20 inch inside spreads. The TX restrictions have spread to more than half of the 254 counties, and are based on antlers being 13″ inside or ‘outside the ears.’ Spikes are legal at all times.

    This IS NOT about trophy hunters. . .just stop that right now. You would still be able to kill spikes and does if you are really trying to ‘feed your family.’ This IS about improving the age structure of the herd. After one or two years the difference will be palpable, and all of you who leave your tailgate open to show off your 1.5 y.o. 5 point can have something to truly be proud of.

    • LPDMI says:

      Philip thanks for your comments. Just a note of clarification, the current proposal in Michigan would limit harvest of any buck with 3 points on one side or fewer. Spikes with less than 3 inches of antlers would continue to be classified as antlerless deer. So it is a little bit different than TX, but has been very successful where tried in Michigan.

  16. Josh says:

    I’m with Gerald. Keep the combo tag but a hunter can only shoot 1 buck. Appreciate all
    The effort. Michigan is such a great state with vast habitats and lots of public land
    We are blessed with that. I pass small bucks on public land every year, I figure it’s better to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

    BUT, there needs to be a tele-check system in place. The DNR estimates harvest results, not good. How can you manage a herd you know very little about. Again I appreciate your movement and efforts. I know this will make for a better hunting experience in Michigan particularly on public grounds. Harvest data is a joke in this state, other states know what was shot, what county, male or female, public or private, they know this days after each season, not several months. It’s important information. I know people will lie and break the law but that will happen no matter what.

    Thank you for your efforts, I and many I know are advocates for change.

    • LPDMI says:

      Josh; Thanks for supporting our cause, but we believe Michigan is at the top of the heap when it comes to data on the deer herd. Only one other state in the midwest bio-checks more deer than MI (NE). Some states that have tele-checks have no idea what the age structure, antler dimensions (beam diameter) and health condition of the deer are. It is just a layperson calling in and saying whatever he wants without verification. Other states estimate that non-compliance with tele-check systems can be as high as 30%. On the other hand, MI does a massive Annual Harvest Survey of over 50,000 deer hunters, resulting in an incredible confidence interval of +/- 2.2, and gathering huge amounts of data about archery hunters, firearms hunters, public and private land hunters, sex ratios, harvest numbers hunter numbers, day per hunter, county by county data, and a host of other information.

      We are proud of Michigan’s data collection system. Could it be better? yes. Is there any other state that outshines us? Probably not when you look across the board at what our DNR accomplishes every year.

  17. ken bryan says:

    In my area (jax. co.) there was a big 6 pt. that left his genes .Every year there is a big the area.I have two in the plus 20in. spread range.My concern would be that a monster 6pt. would not be legal to shot and his genes would constantly be passed on .I beleave that a earn a buck would also be a good option.You would have to take a doe to the dnr station they would check the doe then issue a secound buck tag with 4 or more on one side.We would have a much better understanding of our deer herd.
    Your ideal has a lot of apeal but how do we address inferrer bucks not being shot and left to breed. Possible mandtory check first buck .With 4or more or 18in.spread on first deer.Just wanting to help .I would suport your cause its a good ideal.But spread needs to be adressed.
    thanks for your time and effort. KEN

    • LPDMI says:

      Ken; This is a really good question. I (Jim Brauker) happen to be a good source for an answer, as I got my Ph.D. from Michigan State studying genetic diseases, and went on to work on Gene Therapy and genetic disease for much of my career. It seems to make logical sense that the genes for a mainframe 6 would increase over time, but that is not the way it usually works. If you were to repeatedly inbreed him on a farm, you could probably create a genetic line of mainframe 6 points. But that has almost no chance of happening in the wild. There are is way too much going on. For example, he may not even be able to pass this trait on. There are traits in humans that are passed from mother to son.

      Even if a trait is dominant, it does not mean it will increase if carriers of the trait breed. For example, 6 fingers in humans is a dominant trait. If you carry just one copy of the gene you will express 6 fingers instead of 5. But the 6 fingered trait does not increase just because 6 fingered people are allowed to breed (and we don’t kill off 6 fingered people to keep them from breeding). The reason is that the trait is rare, and it does not afford any survival advantage, and inbreeding among individuals with the gene is rare, so it does not increase in the population, even though it has existed as long as there have been people.

      Same thing goes for the 6 point mainframe. Whatever frequency of the gene exists now, will be pretty much the same as the frequency 100 years from now, even if those with 6 points are allowed to breed. There is way, way too much dilution going on. The only way to increase the frequency of the gene is to have lots of inbreeding going on. This is highly improbable in deer, which are very promiscuous. Did you know that in 25% of whitetail twins come from two different fathers? There is just no way to control for a particular trait in a wild herd that is breeding promiscuously.

      These bucks are not inferior. They are just different. Now, if you argued about how frustrating it will be to have to pass on an old six point, well, I understand that. I have an old 6 point in my neighborhood who survived the season., He was my number one target buck. Not because he was inferior, but because I felt he was the oldest buck in the neighborhood. I passed bucks with bigger antlers while waiting for the chance to shoot him. It will be frustrating to me next year if I can’t shoot him. But it is for the greater good, and he will not hurt the genetics of the herd in my opinion.

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