Experimental Mule Deer Antler Restriction For Southeast Panhandle
September 17, 2018
Editorial Staff (267 articles)
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Experimental Mule Deer Antler Restriction For Southeast Panhandle

Regulation takes effect this hunting season

Hunters pursuing mule deer this fall in Briscoe, Childress, Cottle, Floyd, Hall, and Motley counties must comply with a new antler restriction regulation prohibiting the killing of any mule deer buck with a main beam outside spread of less than 20 inches.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is implementing the new experimental regulation with the goal of improving buck age structure and sex ratios in these counties by reducing excessive hunting pressure on younger bucks.

A similar antler restriction for white-tailed deer has existed for a number of years in other parts of the state, and has successfully shifted the age class structure toward older bucks.

Mule deer archery-only season in the antler restriction counties occurs Sept. 29 – Nov. 2, with the general firearm season occurring Nov. 17 – Dec. 2.

To protect young bucks, TPWD has set the minimum legal outside spread of the main beams at 20 inches based upon many years of harvest data. In other words, any buck having main beams with an outside spread smaller than 20 inches is NOT legal to shoot.

Additionally, any buck with at least one unbranched antler (e.g., spike) is NOT legal to shoot, unless the outside spread of the main beams is 20 inches or more in width. Based upon data collected by TPWD, the average ear-tip to ear-tip spread of 2½ to 8½+ year-old mule deer bucks with ears in the alert position is about 21 inches.

This information on ear-tip to ear-tip measurement can be a useful guide to mule deer hunters attempting to field-judge mule deer bucks with at least a 20-inch main beam outside spread.

Mule Deer Buck Antler Restriction Guide
Legal vs. Not Legal

antler spread

TPWD graphic

 

The experimental antler restriction will continue for four hunting seasons. TPWD wildlife officials will collect age and antler measurements at voluntary hunter-harvest check stations to assess the effects of the regulation on buck age structure.

Annual aerial surveys will document sex ratios. Based on findings after four years, TPWD will either propose to extend the regulation, modify the antler restriction, or permanently terminate.

To gather the most data possible, TPWD will offer incentives to hunters who check their bucks. Hunters who bring their bucks to a check station will be entered in drawings for items such as rifles, lifetime hunting licenses, and gift cards donated by Dallas Safari Club, the Texas Panhandle Chapter of the Dallas Safari Club, the Mule Deer Foundation, and Houston Safari Club.

These data are essential to effectively evaluate the success of the experimental antler restriction. More information is available online. —courtesy TPWD

Brandon Ray photo

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