This weekend, tens of thousands of deer hunters are stalking Michigan’s woods.
In some parts of the state, hunters have to stop to count the points on a buck’s antlers before they pull the trigger.
State wildlife officials have expanded an ‘antler point restriction’ program into 12 Lower Peninsula counties.
Russ Mason is the chief of the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division. He says hunters will not be allowed to shoot bucks with fewer than three antler points in those counties.
“What that amounts to…is you got an older deer,” says Mason, “The idea is you don’t shoot the little ones and after a while they get bigger…and you’re going to have a higher quality animal.
Mason says the program is helping to improve the quality of the deer herds in other states.
“It’s not ‘Stars fall over Alabama good.’ But it’s better than what it was before they started,” says Mason.
More than 400 thousand deer were killed in Michigan in 2012.