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Antler Restrictions

A common goal of many deer hunters is maximizing antler development of the bucks they manage and hunt. Habitat management, food plots, adequate doe harvests, and increasing buck age structure are commonly prescribed in deer management programs to accomplish this goal.

Of these, managing for buck age structure may have the greatest impact. Because older bucks typically have larger antlers than younger bucks, a population of older bucks is needed to increase the antler size of harvested bucks. The term "age structure" is used to define the relative numbers of younger and older bucks in a population. If your goal is maximizing antler size of harvested bucks, you must have an older buck age structure.

Antler restrictions are commonly used to increase buck age structure by targeting only bucks with antlers that meet certain criteria. Antler restrictions are just a specialized type of selectiveharvest criteria — tools used to fulfill management objectives. If you are interested in learning more about the pros and cons of antler restrictions, please read this MSU Deer Lab publication "Using Antler Restrictions to Manage for Older-aged Bucks".