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M Myers
Mark Myers • 11/26/2012 • Allegheny County , PA • Muzzleloader

Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

02

By Mike Handley

Joe Dellaquila Jr.Try telling Joe Dellaquila Jr. that Pennsylvania’s relatively new three-point (on one side) antler minimum is a bad idea, and his eyes are going to fog.

The bowhunter from Ridgeway, Pa., has no problem with the restriction, especially now that a state-record 14-pointer is or soon will be hanging on his wall. He arrowed it on Nov. 2, 2010, in Elk County.

Having already put in a full day at his job, Joe was supposed to be doing some trim work on his home while the missus and their children were visiting relatives. But with the whitetail rut underway, he couldn’t stand not to be in the woods.

“It was like the deer were calling me,” he said.

Because it was 5:00 by the time he settled into his stand, Joe decided to make the most of the short time available by rattling. Shortly after his second sequence, this wide-racked bull of the woods strolled past at 20 yards, all fuzzed up and looking to rumble.

The quartering-away shot was at 32 yards, and the buck’s only reaction was to fall over dead a few steps later.

Many people in that corner of Elk County had either seen or collected trail cam photographs of this deer. If not, like Joe, they’d heard and dreamt about it.

Ed Waite measured the buck less than a month after Joe broke the hearts of untold Elk County deer hunters. At 179 6/8 inches, it is Pennsylvania’s No. 1 Semi-irregular by bow, and that tally doesn’t even reflect the 22 1/8-inch inside spread, which gives the antlers a composite score of 201 7/8.

The full story of this incredible harvest will appear in the July issue of Rack magazine.

Antler Restrictions

I’m no fan of point- or spread-based restrictions. The best way to see more and bigger bucks is to limit the number hunters can shoot.

When Mississippi politicians passed a (minimum) forkhorn rule several years ago – against the recommendation of wildlife biologists – I thought it was the most wrongheaded deed imaginable. Enacted to protect one age-class of bucks, it actually fosters the killing of the herd’s best 1 1/2-year-olds.

Pennsylvania’s three-on-one-side rule isn’t much better. It’s still junk science.

However, what happened in Mississippi appears to be taking place in the Keystone State. While the rules themselves might not accomplish the goals upon which they’re based, they succeed in forcing ethical hunters to count, which has helped change the way they think. Letting a 4- or 5-pointer continue on its merry way is the first step to allowing a small 4x4 to walk.

So, is the rule working?

As much as it pains me to say it, my vote is yes. And don’t bother asking Joe to say ain’t so.

David Lee Brogan Jeffrey Anderson BTR Dee Butler

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Comments

Ken Piper
# Ken Piper
Monday, May 02, 2011 9:58 AM
Great post, Mike! Glad to see they're taking some big bucks back in my home state.
Ted
# Ted
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 9:30 AM
Congrats Joe ! Simply an awesome buck. Love that split G2 and awesome tine length. Looks like he has a broken brow tine...what a shame, but still a buck of a lifetime !
Ted
# Ted
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 9:42 AM
And Mike, I have to agree with PA's rule.....if you don't let the young ones live, they'll never become BIG ones. I live in VA and have taken my fair share of bucks over the years....though none really big. I have changed my philosophy in recent years to let the small ones walk, even if I go home empty-handed. Now I am trying to convince my nephews to do the same.
If you want meat, shoot a doe! Plus, I know from past experience that I have missed chances at larger deer simply because I shot the smaller one in front, not knowing at the time that there was a bigger deer behind him. Besides, as sportsmen, we should consider the hunt a success, just to be able to experience all of God's glory sitting on the top of a mountain watching the sun rise. I have seen so many unusual sights while in the mountains that I would never have experienced sitting at home. And as I tell my son.....the FUN is over when you pull the trigger....now the real WORK begins!
Jim Race
# Jim Race
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 10:12 AM
Congradulations Joe!!! I can't wait for Northern New York to enact some new laws. Unfortunately it won't stop all the poachers where I live and hunt.
Bub Wolfe
# Bub Wolfe
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 10:14 AM
Hey Mike,

Great article and great deer in PA. Glad to see the restrictions are working.
Just wanted to point out I hope Joe shot it in 2010 since Nov 2011 hasn't arrived yet! Keep up the good work! There are some amazing deer out there.
Mike Handley
# Mike Handley
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 10:18 AM
You'd think four months is long enough to learn to write 2011 on checks!
I was so proud not to have made THAT mistake this year ... until a kind reader pointed out that this tale (now corrected) originally said Joe shot it Nov. 2, 2011. No, it wasn't a Tarot or Crystal Ball Buck.
- signed: Doofus
Tim Quinn
# Tim Quinn
Wednesday, May 04, 2011 7:40 AM
Awesome buck:) I agree with those laws as well.It helps the future hunts for sure. That buck may not have got to maturity if not for the rule. I live in the northern part of MN. and on my land we have a strict culling program that is starting to show proof that it works.,since Mn doesn't.Way to go Joe.These sort of rules put on hunters will not only create great (public) hunts for the future,that record could be broken again....~TIM Q
Terry Baier
# Terry Baier
Wednesday, May 04, 2011 9:09 AM
I just read your story and some of the posts afterwards about "three on one side". What about those deer (and they are out there) that never really grow large multi-pointed racks that live to be old by deer standards.
I have seen some big bodied deer with tiny little racks, and I have seen some young deer with relatively large racks with multiple points. The rule seems to propagate backwards thinking in my opinion and focuses only on rack in hopes that the rack reflects age. I think limiting the amount of bucks harvested as opposed to the rack would be better for the hurd...don't you?
Mike Handley
# Mike Handley
Wednesday, May 04, 2011 9:59 AM
Terry: It depends upon the wildlife agency's goal (or the desires of the landowner, who might opt to have even stricter rules than those imposed by the state). Ideally, decisions should be based on what most benefits the resource (deer). However, states must also appease hunters. Doing both can be tricky and thankless.

That said, I do firmly believe a buck limit is better. If a hunter has only one buck tag, he's usually going to hold out for a mature one (as long as there's the option of shooting a doe for venison). Antler restrictions aren't sound for numerous reasons. Even so, in almost every state that has imposed them, deer hunters' mindsets have changed. Protecting a 1 1/2-year-old buck isn't enough by itself. But when hunters grow accustomed to allowing bucks to walk, they've taken the first step toward selective harvest, which helps the buck-to-doe ratio and leads to more mature bucks ... but only as long as does may be shot.

The bottom line is that junk science has spawned an unlikely side effect: Hunters, like the bucks being protected, are maturing.
Steve Lennon
# Steve Lennon
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 3:41 PM
Mike,
You can call it junk science all you want. The truth of the matter is that I have seen more bigger bucks since the restrictions were put into. I have been hunting in PA all my life and have 27yrs under my belt. And most of that time I hunted in the west of the stae which actually now have a 4 pt on one side rule due to the better forage conditions there. Increased doe tags were implemented at that time too. Everyone whined and complained for the 1st couple years because they didn't see herds of deer running through the woods. You don't hear it as much now since huge MATURE bucks are popping up all over the place. And I disagree with your junk science term.....typically in PA older bucks have bigger antlers. This isn't Kansas or Iowa that have a huge agricultural element that can give 2 1/2 yo bucks big racks. And we do have a buck limit.......one per year. Been that way for all my life.
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plaja77
# plaja77
Friday, February 08, 2013 9:41 AM
Hey awesome buck! I also live in PA and have seen and harvested bigger bucks since the restrictions were put in place. I'm a believer in age and nutrition.

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