posted on May 02, 2011 09:11
By Mike Handley
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.
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.