The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Wildlife Division released today the results of a three-year six-point experimental antler program that was mandated by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.
The experiment was done over the 2002/03, 2003/04 and 2004/05 deer hunting seasons in the tri-parish area of Iberville, Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge parishes.
The experiments plan was to restrict the antlered buck harvest. Only small bucks with antler spikes less than three inches and bucks with six or more antlers could legally be harvested. This plan would protect a portion of the yearling age class of bucks that are about a year and a half in age. These yearling bucks could then have a better chance of survival and become older bucks. While the harvest of 1 1/2-year-old bucks would decrease, and the harvest of 2 1/2 and 3 1/2-year-old bucks would increase.
The results are as follows:
* The yearling buck harvest went from an average of 452 bucks in the three years before the study down to an average of 215 bucks during the study.
* The 2 1/2-year-old buck harvest averaged 422 bucks during the three years before the study and dropped to 299 bucks during the experiment.
* The 3 1/2-year-old buck harvest averaged 389 bucks during the three years before the study and stayed almost even with 385 bucks during the experiment.
* Harvest of 4 1/2-year-old bucks averaged 96 in the three years before the study and increased to 174 bucks during the three-year experiment.
* Physical characteristics of the harvested deer before and during the experiment showed little to no change. Body weights and antler development have remained constant in all three parishes.
The overall success of this experiment was limited. Applying antler point restrictions across the state as a whole would produce similar results. The study concludes that a reduction in the buck limit would be a better approach for deer management in Louisiana rather than implementing statewide antler restrictions.
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