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3-buck limit helps state’s deer herd

Although the three-buck limit hasn’t been in place long enough to determine its effect on the Alabama deer herd through scientific study, the anecdotal evidence indicates a significant positive result for both the whitetails and hunters, according to Dan Moultrie, chairman of the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board.

Moultrie, who has been dealing with white-tailed deer for more than 30 years in both the hunting and manufacturing fields, said—with apologies to B.B. King—the thrill is back.

“We do all these radio shows, including Rick and Bubba, and we’re getting all this positive feedback,” Moultrie said of the buck limit and the changing attitudes of Alabama hunters. “I also get the hunting e-mails, and it’s unbelievable the amount of people who are calling me and e-mailing me about the bucks they’re seeing. They’re saying it’s like the old days in Alabama. These people are sending all these pictures from trail cameras with bucks they want me to age. When you’re not seeing bucks, it’s hard to be stewards of the resource. But now that they’re seeing some, they understand: ‘Hey, let’s not kill all these year-and-a-half-old bucks or the two-and-a-half bucks.’ With the limit, they’re getting much more selective, and they’re letting these young bucks live.

“If I remember correctly, we were taking about 85 percent of the year-and-a-half-old bucks before the limit went into effect. That was such an overutilization of the resource. Now people want to grow bigger deer and be stewards of the resource. That was the biggest step. And we had a governor and commissioner willing to stand up and take the heat. And we had an advisory board that stepped up and voted it in. Now it’s paying benefits.”

Moultrie said just about anybody can grow deer, but it’s take a significant effort to manage the resource properly.

“To do it right, it takes a lot of different steps that are not always the most popular, but they’re necessary,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t think this was the answer, but now it’s absolutely the most popular thing out there. People love it. They’re seeing bucks. It’s getting like it used to be and like it ought to be. The buck-to-doe ratio is getting right.”