Whether you hunt white-tailed deer primarily for fresh venison, the experience and memories, or a set of antlers, many hunters appreciate being able to observe and harvest larger, older age class bucks. In 2016, DEC launched the “Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow” educational campaign. The campaign promotes individual choice and voluntary restraint to shift the age composition of bucks harvested by hunters in New York State towards older age classes, while still providing hunters the freedom to harvest any buck they desire.
Throughout the campaign’s implementation, DEC wildlife biologists have documented a steady decrease in the proportion of yearling bucks being harvested by hunters in wildlife management units (WMUs) without mandatory antler point restrictions. Conversely, the proportion of bucks harvested that are at least 2.5 or 3.5 years old has continued to rise in these WMUs (see graph below). This is a strong indication of the campaign’s success in meeting hunter desires to change the age composition of New York State’s buck herd.
If you are a white-tailed deer hunter and want to see larger, older age class bucks on the properties that you hunt, consider practicing and encouraging others to practice “Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow” this hunting season. And if you are a hunter with limited time, energy, or experience, or just want to harvest any buck you encounter, in most areas of the state (excluding WMUs with mandatory antler point restrictions) you still have that freedom and opportunity.
Photo at top: Wikimedia Commons photo.