Let’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.