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AR-Patriot

13 inch rule

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What are your feelings/thoughts on the 13 inch rule?I don't know how it is in other parts of Texas,but in South Central we have a lot of little bird nest racks on 2-3 year old bucks. I'm talking about 8-9 in inside spread. I know the 13 inch rule is supposed to let the bucks live long enough to crow a good rack,which should come in around 5-6 years of age if it is going to.Problem is,we have a lot of bucks that just don't have the Genetics,due to years of "I ain't shooting nothing but a 12 point".I have hunted around the Austin area my entire life,and the biggest buck I have ever seen was a 9 point and it was a road kill on Loop 0360( and it was 6 yrs old,too).My thoughts are that the 13 in rule is going to insure that all we have left to breed are the little 6-8 point bucks that have 1/2" diameter bases and 10 in spread with G2's the size of your pinky.Seems like if nobody culls the crappy horns,that is all that will be left.What do you think?

Patriot

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I think you are correct. The genetics up there are way out of kilter and the thirteen inch rule seems like a strange way to correct the problem.

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It does work where there are better genetics to start with . Llano use to be that way with tiny bucks , but there are much better deer there now . I believe their come back happened after the middle 70s deer die off ! I got a thirteen point from Llano county on the wall that I got there in 85 !!

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I with you on this ar but what would I know I am just a yote and hog hunter have not killed a deer since 83 because I got tired of skinning dog size deer for 30 pounds of meat. I also have over 300 acres here around my house I have not seen but a handful of deer the 2o years I have lived on it. I have no kill on deer trying to increase the herd. I still have just one buck that might be legal he border line. I still waiting and watching

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I felt the same way until we implemented a 4 point rule in Missouri. Our deer need 4 true points on one side to take. The results were amazing. I had seen very few trophy animals before the rule, but sitings have become common after. This rule doesn't apply to youth hunters, so a lot of us take kids out and actively hunt the culls. We had always thought that we didn't have the genetics in my area, turns out our deer just didn't have enough time.

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I hope you are right,Mo,but even the studies Texas Parks and Wildlife have done indicate that a 1 yr old spike with 1/2 in dia horns will never be a big rack buck,even with abundant protein.If the genetics are there,they will be a 4 point or better the first year. Same for a 4 year old with a 10 wide 8 point rack,if the protein was present,he is just not going to turn into a "Wall Hanger",but he will definetly spread his genes around if allowed to remain in the herd. Unless the previous findings by TPWD were incorrect?then would have to rethink my position.

Patriot

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AR,

 

You hit the nail on the head. The 13 " rule really does nothing to improve the deer herd. It does two other things fairly well. One, it pretty well insures most folks around the Piney Woods region ( just to the East of you ) go somewhere else to do any real hunting, thereby taking those local funds away from their neighbors. And two, increase the population of deer in the area, albeit, mostly with inferior stock. On a recent trip between Columbus and Bastrop on HWY 71, I counted no less than 11 deer carcases on or near the road in that short section of highway. One can only imagine the number that got hit and made it far enough away before dying to not be seen. The deer with horns were marginal specimens at best. I remember a 7 point deer I shot in Colorado county years back that had a rack that I could duplicate with my fingers if I scrunched them up enough. It is sad to think I could go to prison now for trimming that buck when every true deer management expert agrees that a buck like that is detrimental to your herd.

 

I discussed that very issue with a game warden for Colorado County at the county fair parade when the law first came about. He contended that the law was the greatest thing since sliced bread (ie, less hunters in the woods, less work for him, same pay...BONUS!) I contended that he just added a bit of weight to the hunters kit in the form of a hammer. When he didn't see the connection I explained to him if the buck didn't have one spiked antler before the shot.....it would sure have one after! After a red faced rant about how he better not catch some one with a deer with an antler with broken points on it, I asked him how he could be sure the point(s) weren't broken off naturally as a result of sparring with another buck. He started to say something but stopped and the look on his face.....and as the saying goes, .... was priceless!

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Patriot:

 

We have the same rule here in Bell County. I have mixed feelings on it. As to the spikes, several studies I have read indicate that a spike has about a 50-50 chance of becoming a "normal" buck in a couple of years, but I'm not sure I buy that....I only shoot a spike if it is a "longhorn" spike, ones with pretty wide spreads, as I believe, without much foundation, that they will not change into something better.

Back to the 13" rule....I have let many bucks walk that were probably legal because I can't judge 13" very well at 100 yds. or so , and I can't take the chance. I've made my grandson, hunting with me, do the same, although he was eager to take the shot. I have also seen quite a few 12 3/4" bucks skinned at night by flashlight in the deep woods because it was killed, based on the "ear" standard, and didn't measure up. Fact is, you can't 100% tell one of them from one that is 13 1/2" at that distance on the hoof, at least I can't, ears alert or not. My rule is if I have to think about it's legality, I let it pass.

Where the rule fails, as far as I'm concerned, is that I have seen too many bucks of 6 or 8 points without brow tines that definitely won't make the 13" mark, and that probably will never do so or grow brow tines. These need to be culled, but you can't legally do so. Thus their genetics is passed on and on and on.....ad infinitum. The biggest bodied deer I ever shot was a 6 point minus brow tines in East Texas, killed well before the law, but measuring only slightly less than 13". I have the horns, not the head, mounted.

While I can't always judge 13" at 100 yds., I can count to 8, and an 8 point that hasn't made 13" is never, in my opinion, going to be a trophy buck, not in most of Texas, anyhow. A better rule would be based on points, whether it be 6 or 8 or whatever.

Another possibility might be to be allowed to add 1/2" of spread for each point over 6 in figuring total spread, and anything 6 pt. or above with no brow tines is legal, regardless. That way we could cull the inferiors, and probably not make all that many mistakes.

Just for the record, I haven't killed a deer in over 5 years, and not because I haven't had the opportunity....I passed last year on a 10 pt. with about a 20" spread, viewed at 50 yards from my blind for at least 5 minutes or more. Even I could tell his horns extended out from his ears a minimum of 4-5 inches. Similar stories from the years before that. The older I get, the less I need to shoot, but my grandson hasn't reached that point yet, and I would like for him to be able to shoot a deer that he saw and wanted without worrying about the consequences. I'm not sure who the state is growing all the "big" deer for, but I wish they would get their fill and go back to hunting for the pleasure of hunting, not for what "they" consider "trophies". An 11" - 5 point would be a trophy for my grandson, and I would mount it just as quick if not quicker than that 20" one I let walk for me.

I know many would disagree with me and my reasons, but they aren't me, and I really don't care. My fondest memory of my son and I hunting was when he was 13 and had never shot a deer, and he killed a spike buck the size of a bread box (and yes, I know you can still shoot spikes anytime, but that's not my point here) . The joy on his face was worth all the full-shoulder mounts adorning the walls of all the "trophy hunters" put together. It was the best trophy I have ever seen, and if anyone doesn't like it they can shove it where the sun don't shine.

 

OP

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I hope you are right,Mo,but even the studies Texas Parks and Wildlife have done indicate that a 1 yr old spike with 1/2 in dia horns will never be a big rack buck,even with abundant protein.If the genetics are there,they will be a 4 point or better the first year. Same for a 4 year old with a 10 wide 8 point rack,if the protein was present,he is just not going to turn into a "Wall Hanger",but he will definetly spread his genes around if allowed to remain in the herd. Unless the previous findings by TPWD were incorrect?then would have to rethink my position.

Patriot

Please don't think that I'm saying it's the right thing for Texas. Deer in my area are significantly larger animals and probably have access to more calories (and protein) than most Texas deer. Most Central and North Missouri deer will be pretty impressive animals if allowed to live past 3 1/2.

I'm not sure that I really understand the 13 inch thing. It would sort of lead to the worst genetics getting to do the most breeding.

I think it would benefit Texas to implement the youth season rule that we have (suspending all buck requirements for the kids). This not only allows kids to avoid really hard choices, but it really encourages land owners to take out other peoples kids just for the sake of culling their herds.

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The 13" rule was never intended to increase antler size. What it is intended to do is increase the number of 2.5 and 3.5 year old bucks. These are the proper breeding age deer. Get you buck to doe ratio from 1:8 down to 1:2/3 and one day there is a peak rut! Peak rut equals peak fawn drop time. If they hit the ground at the same time, survival rate increases. Coyotes get the old does not the young fawns. Better ratio, better bucks get the does and your racks improve. General genetics around here is a 3.5 to 4.5 year 15-16" eight point but only if given food and time. Explane how all that works when a big place is 140 acreas with one hunter, surround by 20 acrea places with 4 hunters each? Or a guy with 4 year old son that kills during youth only season?

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Or a guy with 4 year old son that kills during youth only season?

I have noticed around here that the shooting abilities of 5 and 6 year-olds improve dramatically the weekend before the regular season starts. Some of them I suppose use arm-extenders that weekend to aid them in reaching the trigger, because they do bring home some choice deer. It's a blessed sight indeed.

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I like the 4pt rule I don;t like the 13" rule. Seen several mature bucks in Smith County that will never get shot because they are not 13". We;; I shouldn't say several cause I'm talking East Texas, but a few!!

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Slew,

 

You couldn't be referring to the fact that most E. Texas counties have 5 to 7 times as many game wardens per county than the W. Texas counterparts, could you?

 

I always wondered why that was the case. :unsure:

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I like the 4pt rule I don;t like the 13" rule. Seen several mature bucks in Smith County that will never get shot because they are not 13". We;; I shouldn't say several cause I'm talking East Texas, but a few!!

I'm with you, Slew. I hunted East Texas for 30 years, so I can relate (my last lease there was in Shelby County, near Teneha).

People will argue this, but the bucks in East Texas on average aren't as wide as more open-country bucks are. True, some real monsters come out of East Texas, I know that. But I think the thick brush and briars of East Texas inhibit the general width of the horns. Whatever the reason, the 13" rule is a hindrance there.

 

OP

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