It seems as though more and more states are going to or discussing the one buck rule for their state. Here in Indiana they have had the rule for several years now and I hear and have read several different opinions about the rule and would like to share mine. Please weigh in with your thoughts by commenting below.
The one buck rule is something that I have had mixed feelings about. When Indiana first adopted the rule I wasn’t hunting in Indiana. I was hunting out west and down south and really wasn’t effected by the rule. The last couple seasons were different. I decided I wanted to find a good hunting area closer to home and did so about 3 hours away. It was public land and while I was skeptical of my chances at a good buck I really felt good about being closer to home. I always use a jon boat to access hunting spots and hoped that it would make a difference and it did. You can read my journal from last season here.
I have harvested a good buck for several seasons in a row and being a non-resident I never shot a second buck so my one buck mentality was already ingrained when I decided to hunt my home state. The idea of the one buck rule seemed like a great way to allow more bucks to reach maturity and enhance the overall size of the bucks racks across the state. This no doubt has happened with more and more big bucks harvested every year. The problem, or at least a problem to some, seems to be that big racks have never been a priority and the rule is mainly for those hunters who “trophy hunt.”
Many deer hunters despise “trophy hunters” for whatever reason and prefer to be able to harvest more than one buck. The one buck rule has undoubtedly drove an even bigger wedge between “meat hunters” and “trophy hunters.” This wedge seems to get bigger and bigger as new rules are implemented like the crossbow during archery season yet another big debate. This wedge divides our forces and weakens our voice as a whole. This is bad for our heritage and traditions as hunters and needs to stop. As less and less people are pursuing the outdoors we loose more and more of our power. I do not like crossbows during archery season but primitive archers don’t like compound bows. So where do we draw the line. I am digressing from the one buck rule and I apologize.
The big buck has been mass marketed and it works. Videos and images of giant bucks have brought many more people into hunting. This is a good thing for our voice but not so good when those hunters take to the woods and never even see a deer. They watch videos and read articles about killing big bucks and think it is easy when it isn’t. Unfortunately for the new hunter, who had grandiose ideas about what hunting is about, has already spent thousands of dollars preparing for what proves to be difficult and above all else requires work.
All of this marketing is for the dollar bills and only the naive would think otherwise. The market realized the influence that big bucks have on unsuspecting folks and have surrounded the “big buck influence” like vultures. This is why you see a guy at a trade show selling you stories of big bucks and what his outfitters can offer but while talking to this person you soon realize he knows very little about hunting. That is because he is one of those vultures that might be selling swimming pools or spas at his next trade show if that’s what the people want.
The one buck rule has less to do with the deer herd than you think. It has more to do with money. States no that big bucks bring money to the state from other states. You have non-resident licenses, food, lodging to name a few and the local interest goes up as well when they see their buddy arrowing 140 inch ten pointers every year and more money is spent all around. Now there is nothing wrong with money and trying to make a little. I try to make a little with my writing and if I new of a way to spark interest in it I would try. The biggest problem to me with the one buck rule is that wedge I mentioned. It seems that every new law that pertains to hunting, especially big game, divides us a little more. And that ain’t good!
I love to bow hunt mature whitetails and love to see several during the archery season and for that reason I don’t mind the one buck rule. Would I prefer a two buck rule? Absolutely I would and for various reasons I won’t get into here but you can ask in the discussion blocks below if you like. I know there are many hunters who despise the one buck rule and those that got it passed but let me say that I would guess that there are many more hunters who appose the one buck rule than support it but their voice was never heard.
Hunters that hunt mature whitetails take the hunt serious to a fault at times. I know I do. I have never attended a meeting where the DNR discuss topics like this with hunters but I would venture to guess that the majority of hunters that attended and spoke were those for the one buck rule. Again I have never been to one so if I am wrong in this please let me know but usually the hunters I speak to that are opposed to the one buck rule grab their gun the morning of opening day and head out to try and kill a buck. They aren’t concerned about the process that made the rule come to fruition and I understand that. The problem is that these hunters, while not as hardcore as some can be about hunting, are die hard hunters that grew up with hunting and they are going every year no matter what the new rules are and they are probably teaching their kids or grandkids about our great traditions and heritage. These hunters, for the most part, couldn't care less about how big the rack is. Sure they would love to shoot a giant buck and usually these guys have stories of at least one buck that was a good one in their past but it isn’t their motivating factor like with those that have been lured into hunting with unrealistic expectations and then decide not to hunt.
Hunters should just stick together and roll with the tides. The one buck rule I am sure would have been implemented no matter who showed up at those meetings just because the dollar signs were dancing in the minds of those that make the rules. Those hunters that couldn't care less about the size buck they kill shouldn’t hate those that hold out for 140 class buck and vice versa. In the end we are all just hunters and we should all stick together or we may find that our numbers will continue to decline. I don’t think that hunting can go away because the deer population has to be maintained somehow but I do believe that some of our public hunting land will go away if they can’t make money from hunting.