By Michael Eckert
Every deer hunter has asked him- or herself, finger reaching for the trigger guard, “Is it big enough?”It’s a complicated question.
The answer depends on a complicated calculus of factors ranging from how distracting a buck’s antlers are to which day the hunter’s vacation ends. Those factors include the hunter’s attitudes toward taking antlerless deer as a herd management tool and his opinions about antler-point restrictions and quality deer management.
And whatever your answer, the deer always seem to have a rebuttal.
Like the smallish six-pointer I watched one October. It’s early in the season, the weather’s nice, he’s sort of puny, there will be bigger ones. He was the last deer I saw that year.
A couple years later, I shot his twin in the Upper Peninsula. After tagging and dressing him, I looked up and saw his dad — his much bigger dad — watching me from 30 yards away. See, it told you there would be bigger ones.
That’s why state lawmakers changed a new law to punish poachers who kill trophy animals.
The law, which passed the legislature Thursday and is on its way to the governor for his signature, gives special punishment to poachers who kill special deer. Michigan’s penalties for stealing our deer were lower than most other states, and didn’t take into account that some deer are more valuable than others.
A poacher who steals a doe to feed his family isn’t the same as a professional violator who turns collecting trophies into a full-time criminal enterprise. More....