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Star-Telegram.com

Opinions wanted on antler restrictions

Posted Friday, May. 23, 2008

By BOB HOOD

blhood@star-telegram.com

Hunters and landowners in 20 North Texas counties are being asked to give their opinions on possible changes in whitetail buck harvest laws through antler restrictions beginning with the 2009-10 hunting season.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering adding the 20 counties to others in Southeast, Central and North Central Texas that have a two-buck limit on whitetails where one must have an inside spread of 13 inches or greater and the other must have at least one unbranched antler.

A buck with at least one unbranched antler usually is classified as, but not limited to, a spike or three-pointer.

The counties being considered for the new regulations include Archer, Callahan, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Hill, Hood, Jack, Johnson, McLennan, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Shackelford, Stephens, Tarrant, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wise and Young.

“This is not a proposal at this stage but just something we want to let hunters and landowners know about so they can have a voice now to let us know what they think about it,” said Raymond Sims, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist.

“We have set up a Web site so people can give us their comments on the antler restrictions and that Web site will be up until June 6. After that, we will evaluate the comments and that will determine if it goes into an actual proposal.

If the new antler restrictions become a proposal, public hearings will be set followed by action by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Sims said.

Although controversial among some hunters, TPWD surveys have indicated antler restrictions in place in many counties have been well-received by most hunters who see it as a way of protecting young age-class deer and allowing them to grow into mature bucks before being allowed to be harvested.

In fact, many hunters and landowners already have implemented similar antler restrictions on properties that protect young bucks in counties where no state-required antler regulations exist.

To voice an opinion on the antler restrictions being considered go to: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/game_management/deer/antler_restrictions/extra. Deadline for sending an opinion is June 6.

The Web site includes a lot of deer data as well as a list of state wildlife biologists responsible for various areas.

“I encourage all people to read what is on the Web site first to learn all about what is there before submitting their opinions,” said Mitch Lockwood, the department’s whitetail deer program leader.

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