Hunting Season Begins With a Review of Safety

With hunting season here, this is a good time to review a few hunter safety tips to ensure everyone remains safe while preparing for the next hunting trip and when hunting. Unfortunately, people are injured every year in hunting-related activities. Accidental firearm discharge, falling from tree stands and a shooter misidentifying the target are the main causes of fatalities and injuries. As a certified hunter education instructor, I stress the following tips to students in hunting courses, regardless of age or experience.

Food Requirements for Different Animals

Have you ever wondered why ruminant livestock such as cattle, sheep and goats, or wildlife such as deer, elk and bison eat what they do? For example, cattle and bison eat primarily grass; deer eat primarily forbs and browse (the edible leaves and stems of woody plants), but very little grass. Some ruminants, such as goats, have the ability to choose their diet across a wide spectrum of available plant types: grasses, forbs and woody vegetation.

One Buck Limit

Isn’t it time for white-tailed deer hunters to progress to the next level? I believe deer hunters can evolve and progress like most largemouth bass fishermen evolved and progressed. Throughout the course of human history, including most of the 20th century, bass fishermen kept most or all bass they were allowed to keep. However, during the last 40-50 years, many bass fishermen began to release most bass because they now realize bass are a limited resource and will continue to grow larger over time when adequate food is available. Bass and bucks are renewable, but limited, resources. Most bass fishermen and buck hunters typically want larger trophies. Bass and bucks have to live longer to grow larger.

The Eight Point Rule

The eight point rule is the primary harvest strategy of some managers trying to increase buck antler size. Managers using the eight point rule allow harvest of bucks with eight or more antler points while protecting bucks with fewer points. Although intentions are good, the eight point rule is minimally effective for protecting superior bucks. Many yearling bucks with superior genetics and good nutrition have eight or more points on their first set of antlers. Nearly all bucks with superior genetics and adequate nutrition have eight or more points when 2 years old. Bucks with inferior antler genetics may never have more than seven points, even when mature. So, the eight point rule basically gives little or no protection to the superior bucks while it protects and promotes the inferior ones.