The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is proposing an Antler Point Regulation (APR) in the portion of Zone D south of Interstate-10 (DMU D1) that would require a deer to have at least one antler with two or more points (each point one or more inches in length); and an APR in the area north of Interstate-10 (DMU D2) that would require a deer to have at least one antler with three or more points (each point one or more inches in length).
An APR) is a harvest strategy based on the minimum number of antler points that a deer possesses. Generally speaking, APRs are intended to protect younger and smaller bucks from harvest. FWC’s goal of implementing a APR is to protect yearlings (i.e., 1.5 years-old) from harvest while allowing the harvest of bucks 2.5 years-old and older.
Because antler and body size generally increase with each year of age, an APR is likely to increase the average antler size and body weight of antlered deer harvested in Zone D.
Youth 15 years of age and younger would be exempt from APRs on private lands and on some Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). They could harvest deer with 5 inch or larger antlers).
The purpose of these proposed APRs are to protect the majority of 1.5 year old bucks (yearlings) from harvest while allowing the harvest of 2.5 year old and older bucks. The goal is to increase the number of bucks in the population, improve buck-to-doe ratios and increase the size of bucks harvested. If approved by the FWC, the proposed rules would begin with the 2014-2015 hunting season.
During public opinion surveys, public meetings and technical assistance group (TAG) meetings, hunters told us that they wanted to see more bucks and have a better chance to harvest larger bucks. While there are many ways to achieve this result, support was greatest for APRs. For more details on the results of assistance group meetings, visit http://tinyurl.com/oz4uv67
For an APR to be effective across the landscape and to reduce potential conflicts, FWC is proposing the DMU specific APRs apply on all land within DMU (Deer Management Unit) boundaries, regardless of whether it was privately or publicly owned. If a property is split by a DMU boundary, the property would have two different APRs respective to the DMU boundaries.
Antler characteristics are influenced by habitat quality. Due to differences in soil productivity and the amount of land in row crop agriculture, the habitat quality tends to be greater north of I-10 (DMU D2) than south of I-10 (DMU D1). Harvest data from each DMU indicates that the APR that would most effectively protect male yearlings (1.5 year old bucks) from harvest while allowing the harvest of most 2.5 year old and older bucks is a 3-points-on-a-side APR north of I-10 (DMU D2) and a 2-points-on-a-side APR or “forked antler” south of I-10 (DMU D1).
We expect the antlered deer harvest in Zone D to decrease initially and then rebound close to current levels after three to four years. It is difficult to estimate what the percent decline will be the first year because many individual hunters, hunt clubs, private landowners, and some WMAs already have some form of an antler regulation.
How bucks will be better protected
DMU Proposed APR Age Class
1.5 2.5 3.5 4.5+
D1 2 points on one side 83% 24% 9% 7%
D2 3 points on one side 89% 32% 10% 8%
The table above shows the estimated percent protection from harvest for each buck age class under the proposed APR for each DMU. These estimates are based on harvest data collected from check stations throughout each DMU.