Cumberland Times-News

March 9, 2013

Texan likes antler rule for Garrett

Cumberland Times-News

— Mr. Sawyers,

I grew up in Garrett County, where I fell in love with the sport of deer hunting. I have since made a career out of the hunting industry, first as a hunting guide in Colorado, Illinois, Arkansas and Texas. After getting a degree in wildlife management, I am now a wildlife manager for a hunting camp in South Texas on the King Ranch. I make a living controlling and managing deer populations on one of the most famous hunting ranches in America.

  Your article on House Bill 990 (Deer antler bill introduced ... ), published Feb. 16, was presented in a very poor manner.

 In the first paragraph you said “people who hunt deer in Garrett County will all become trophy hunters” this is far from the truth, and instantly points out your side of the argument. This law is not designed to make people trophy hunters at all, it is designed to create a stronger healthy deer herd. We have the responsibility as hunters and conservationists to protect and preserve not only our deer but all wildlife in general.

  Next you said “it tells a landowner that when he goes out on his own property, the one on which he pays taxes, the one on which he chases deer from his cornfield, that he can’t shoot a spike or a forkhorn.’ You are correct on this point, just like the law tells that land owner what season he can hunt, what weapon he can use, and how many he can harvest. All four of these are not judging or penalizing anyone, these are standard rules that are designed to preserve the wildlife that we all love so much.

You also quoted that “Managing wildlife by legislation can be good as long as it is not a biological decision.” So here is my challenge to you, coming from a wildlife manager myself. Go outside Garrett County and ask biologists if this would help the deer herds as a whole. I can tell you the answer, it’s yes without a question.

Also you said “It will also reduce the number of deer in a family’s freezer.” Wait a second. What?? How is that going to happen? Here is a little secret about deer. They don't magically die at the age of two!!!

This will increase the number of deer, this will make a stronger, healthier, more mature deer herd. If you care at all about deer hunting or the animal itself, this should be your goal.

 Final notes: 1.This management plan is not some wild idea thrown together by “Trophy Hunters,” this is a fine tuned plan to better deer and hunting them as a whole.

2. This plan WILL catch on across much of the U.S. in the years to come, as people begin to realize the responsibility of hunters to better manage the wildlife they pursue. Garrett County is not being punished by this bill, Garrett County has the opportunity to be a leader in changing the way a nation manages its deer herds for the better.

3. I don't know of any Garrett County hunters looking for leases in Allegany County, but I do know quite a few that are getting leases in PA where they do have antler restrictions.

 Mr. Sawyers I do not mean to sound harsh, but this article truly got my blood pressure up, I grew up there, that’s my home town. I have been blessed with the opportunity to hunt all around the U.S. and for my home town to start taking steps in wildlife management, is very personal to me. I have been so impressed by what the QDMA has done back there, I buy a membership there and live in Texas. The feedback I get from friends and family that are hunting and seeing more deer, healthier herds, bigger bucks, this can all be traced to QDMA and the impact they have had on a little place like Garrett County.

Sam Leatherman

Becerra Camp, Texas