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We are on a deer lease in Texas that is marginal at best. We have shot a few hogs but have not shot a deer in 3 years and haven't even seen a deer this season. Texas has a 13" inside spread rule that was adopted this year. I was in the stand with my 12 yr old son for our last hunt of the season and the last 10 min of shooting light a 6 pt buck came out. He was a big deer with a good rack and from the side, it looked like an 8 pt but when he faced us, he did not have any brow tines. It was really close to being out to the ear tips but I decided it was too close to call so we let him walk. No venison for 3 years now but I had to tell my son that there are guys that shoot everything and there are guys that when in doubt, will hold off. It was a tough call as I am really hungry for some venison but still think it was the right call.
 

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Better to error on the "right" side of the law. Generally the "rules" are designed to protect the deer populations. Unfortunately, unlike crab fisherman you cannot put a "measure" on the deer. You did the right thing - don't look back as the only lesson here is that you done good.
 

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inside spread minimum sounds like a dumb law, as it is literally impossible to tell unless its obvious or you have a tape against it, anything close is a gamble, ought to only be point requirements.
 

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Well the law states that the ears must be inside the rack when at the alert position. It's to ensure that the smaller deer have a chance to become big deer and make more deer. It is meant to be helpful to the populations, though it is a challenge to hunters who work within the law. But whats a little challenge? We need to work on the hog population anyways. Thin them out to make room for more deer.
 

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inside spread minimum sounds like a dumb law, as it is literally impossible to tell unless its obvious or you have a tape against it, anything close is a gamble, ought to only be point requirements.
I dont think it sounds dumb at all. An average whitetail buck is about 15 inches tip to tip between the ears. If the rack is even with or outside the ears its game on, if not pass it. If the goal is to get bucks older then spread/mass are better indications of age than point count.
 

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I guess the deer over there just dont have the cover to survive, around here its 2 pt or better and the vast majority of bucks around here die of old age. I suppose this is the mentality i have after hunting PNW blacktails all my life.

My dad shot a 4 1/2 year old buck this year, and the spread wasnt to the outside of the ears. Thee buck i shot was aged at 8 1/2 years old by taxidermist, and he would have barely been legal by your standards, so i suppose thats why i think its a dumb law.

Could also pass on poor genetics on some bucks who never will be "legal" Iv just always thought an 8 point minimum for whitetails would give them ample oppurtunity to smart up.

Sorry for going on so long about it, im sure the biologists over there have good reasons.
 

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It's just a hunting pressure issue. When there is too much pressure everything gets shot the first year and all you end up with are spikes and forkhorns. Depending on where you are in Texas, you may be overrun with does and spikes or you may have hardly any deer at all. Odd but true.

What county are you hunting in? Check the regs; some counties have the 13" rule but not the point count, and this changes year to hear. Gets confusing I agree. Doesn't hurt for a new hunter to learn to be patient and follow the rules. Good for you. Hope you get some hogs. Right now I'm covered up in venison and looking for pigs.... that's the way it goes! Haven't gotten a shot at a turkey in quite a while. We have ducks but I keep forgetting to buy a duck stamp... :rolleyes:
 

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We are on a deer lease in Texas that is marginal at best. We have shot a few hogs but have not shot a deer in 3 years and haven't even seen a deer this season. Texas has a 13" inside spread rule that was adopted this year. I was in the stand with my 12 yr old son for our last hunt of the season and the last 10 min of shooting light a 6 pt buck came out. He was a big deer with a good rack and from the side, it looked like an 8 pt but when he faced us, he did not have any brow tines. It was really close to being out to the ear tips but I decided it was too close to call so we let him walk. No venison for 3 years now but I had to tell my son that there are guys that shoot everything and there are guys that when in doubt, will hold off. It was a tough call as I am really hungry for some venison but still think it was the right call.
I think the biggest point here is that your son saw his father make the right decision when he was in doubt. We all have made decisions based on odds with a risk factor attached. Some of those decisions worked out, others did not. Your son will learn more from your actions than anything you can preach. Good job!
 

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Pistolpete,

That would be rough, hunting three years straight on a deer lease, but not getting any deer! Kudos for showing your son what ethics are all about, regardless of whether or not the law makes sense.

Here in Indiana they passed a law about 5 or 6 years back that allows a hunter to take only 1 buck, all seasons combined, in a given year. If you get one with your bow, you can't shoot anything but does during the gun season. A lot of guys hated it for the first 2-3 years, especially if they had good buck numbers, to begin with. What started to happen, after the first few years, is guys would not shoot a buck if it was small because then that part of their season would be over. A bunch of guys didn't get a buck for several years, rather than shoot a little one. The end result is that Indiana now has a LOT of really good bucks and the buck/doe ratio has climbed steadily, each year.

I'm not so sure I like the 13" restriction, because that is going to be difficult to judge, in the field. Also, if a guy goes out and shoots three or four bucks with a 13" spread each year, how is that helping the herd? The keys to deer management are really pretty simple: Make sure they have the food and habitat they need, keep the doe (and hog) numbers in check and then let younger bucks walk. If he's less than 8 points with a skinny little neck/body (for your region), don't shoot him. It only takes a few years of good management to get things headed in the right direction.
 

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pistolpete, good call. Hope next season is better for you.

The problem I have with the 13" rule is you have to see your buck from the front to make a judgement. I shot a 8 point this year. From the back as he was walking away he look well outside the 13 inches and from the side you simply can not tell. When I saw him on the ground he looked marginal at best. Turned out he was a little over 14".

The other difficulty is deer ears are not all the same. A buck with antlers past the ears may just be a buck with small ears. The outside the ear thing is just a guide. He must be 13" or better. Once he is on the ground the only way to know if you shot a legal buck is to measure. Before measuring my buck I was sweating it. He didn't look as wide on the ground as he did walking around. (ground shrinkage I guess)

We did see better (and more) bucks this year than in the previuos years. Maybe it is because of the 13" rule, maybe not. I am hunting in Comanche county (Tx) and the property I hunt has a very large doe population so next year I may just shoot a doe or two.
Dallas Jack
 
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