OK, so Iím a meat hunter at heart. After more than 20 years of deer hunting and who knows how many deer on the ground, I still just love to squeeze the trigger and watch a deer do the death jump. I still get jazzed ó with adrenaline making me light-headed ó even when I shoot a 100-pound doe. Thereís just no better high in the world.
The biggest buck Iíve ever killed was a 113-inch 8-point that adorns the wall of my living room (despite my wifeís best efforts to burn it with candles).
While I do†dream about calling Yvette to inform her that we have to come up with $800 to mount the 140-inch monster I just downed (sheíll be less than thrilled if that ever happens), Iím about as happy shooting a spike as punching a hole in a 10-point.
So I had mixed feelings in 2006 when the Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Commission approved the current season bag limit of three bucks and three does. Yeah, I know I ended up with the same number of deer, but after you shoot that first spike you start laying off the trigger because you just might get a shot at a huge-racked deer. And that final tag? Itís like parting with gold.
Well, now the regulation is six years old, and the jury is in: The annual bag limit has been a windfall for state hunters in terms of providing real opportunities to kill quality bucks.
Iím still waiting to get a shot at that 140-incher ó and I have been lucky enough to hunt some of the best property the Mississippi Delta has to offer ó but the fact is Louisiana has become one of the deer-hunting gems of the United States.
Thatís been proven the past couple of years when we at Louisiana Sportsman have had to increasingly raise our standards of which deer merit coverage. I can remember when we would publish stories on 130-inch bucks in the pages of this magazine. Now, a 130-inch deer doesnít even pique our curiosity. And, with barely a month of the 2012-13 season in the books, I had to make the call that we wouldnít even write about 140-inch deer again this season ó and it takes a lot of calcium to push a deer into the 140-inch range.
There are just that many 150-inch-or-better bucks being killed.
State managers often get castigated for making boneheaded decisions ó and sometimes these criticisms are warranted. But itís clear they got it right when they decided to brave potential bashing by meat hunters like me to provide quality deer-hunting options.
The three-buck limit has resulted in a lot of bucks reaching ages that allow them to grow to their true potential. Even the piney woods are turning out awesome deer now.
And the beauty is that hunters can still make up their minds what they want to shoot. Donít care about antlers? Shoot away. Want to wait on a trophy? Thatís your prerogative.
No matter what, fewer bucks are killed ó leaving more to get older and grow larger racks.
So if youíre one of those who pays top dollar to go to Iowa or Kansas to kill big deer you can now stay home: Youíre just as likely to kill the biggest buck of your life in the woods of Louisiana.
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