Reader Ricky brought up the earn-a-buck program in a comment to a previous post. My reply got a bit long so I decided to give EAB its own post.
I actually think EAB is a great program in areas where the deer herd needs to be reeled in. And I like Virginia’s system of requiring the antlerless deer before the second buck. A few years ago the first deer I saw, on the opening day of bow season, was a shooter buck. That would have been brutal to have to pass him up. As it turned out, I would have had to shoot a doe next had EAB been in place, but I’ll take that chance.
DGIF deer program manager Matt Knox has said from the beginning that the hope is that it will prompt hunters to take the first antlerless deer they get a chance to take, essentially earning their buck before they have to. If you think about it, more than half of the first deer hunters see should be an antlerless deer, right?
We all have heard of hunters reporting taking “phantom does” just to meet the requirement. No doubt some of that happens. People cheat. Always have. Always will. The rule doesn’t make people cheaters. If everyone was doing it, the kill wouldn’t be dropping in EAB counties (as it is). That the kill is dropping shows that EAB (combined with other regs) is working.
A problem with the first iteration of EAB was that a doe in any EAB county counted toward the EAB requirement in any county. The change to make everything county-specific, which took effect this year, makes much more sense.
EAB was dropped from a couple of counties this year, as you know. The objective had been met so the rule wasn’t needed. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that happen in other EAB counties in two years, the next time regs are up for regular review. It depends on what the kill tallies are in those counties this season and next season.
So, let’s look at a couple examples of EAB in action. Read more »