Antler restriction pilot project (ARPP) concerning white-tailed deer

Map of zone 6 where the antler restriction pilot project is being conducted

The Department carries out an antler restriction pilot project (ARPP) concerning white-tailed deer in zones 6 North and 6 South, mainly located in the Estrie region. In the context of the project, special hunting rules are in force since fall of 2017.

An adult male deer must have a minimum of three points of 2.5 cm or more on one side of the antlers to be eligible to harvest. This restriction on antlers will apply to all hunting periods in zones 6 North and 6 South regardless of the hunting gear (crossbow, bow, firearm, shotgun or muzzle-loading firearm).

Examples of deer that may or may not be hunted in zones 6 North and 6 South subject to the antler restriction.

Measurement and counting of deer antler points.

Summary of procedures respecting white-tailed deer harvesting in zones 6 North and 6 South in 2021

White-tailed deer sport hunting periods in 2021 Zones 6 North and 6 South

Hunting gear Crossbow and bow Muzzle-loading firearm, shotgun, crossbow and bow Firearms, crossbow and bow
Hunting period October 2 to 15 October 16 to 20 November 6 to 21
Sex/age Antlered deer that complies with the AR standard* Antlered deer that complies with the AR standard* Antlered deer that complies with the AR standard*
Antlerless deer Antlerless deer Antlerless deer for licence holder (random draw)

* White-tailed deer whose antlers measure 7 cm or more and that bear a minimum of three points of 2.5 cm or more on at least one side.

Reminder on antlerless deer hunting

In zones 6 North and 6 South:

  • Antlerless deer hunting is allowed under the conditions in force in these zones (see table above).
  • The regulation defines an antlerless deer as a deer, female or male with antlers of less than 7 cm.
  • The antlerless deer licence issued by random draw authorizes the holder to hunt antlerless deer in the zone, part of zone or territory that is indicated on the licence during a season when only hunting deer with antlers is permitted.
  • The harvest of antlered deer must comply at all times with the RTLB standard requiring that they have at least three points of 2.5 cm or more on one side of the antlers.

The description of the white-tailed deer hunting periods for all of the zones is available here.

The following section explains in detail the antler restriction pilot project and answers the main questions in this respect. Other questions can be submitted by email to RTLB@mffp.gouv.qc.ca, to which we would be pleased to reply.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an antler restriction (AR) concerning white-tailed deer?

An antler restriction (AR) is a management tool that seeks to modify the age structure of a deer population by protecting during hunting young bucks one and a half years old that are highly represented in the harvest to give them time to develop their body mass and their antlers. To achieve this objective, an antler restriction procedure limits buck deer hunting to animals that possess a certain number of points on one side of their antlers.

2. Why is the MFFP testing an antler restriction concerning the white-tailed deer?

An antler restriction (AR) pilot project proposed by wildlife partners was subject to a recommendation by the provincial wildlife steering committee, subsequently included in the Plan de gestion du cerf de Virginie 2010-2017. In the spring of 2015, the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks approved the pilot project. The wildlife and parks sector elaborated a pilot project to rigorously evaluate this new procedure for harvesting white-tailed deer in the Québec context.

3. What is the difference between an antler restriction and Quality Deer Management (QDM)?

There are several definitions of Quality Deer Management (QDM) but overall it is a management approach that seeks to maintain a deer population in balance with its habitat and enhance the quality of the hunting experience by different means. The protection of young bucks through an antler restriction (AR) is one of the means advocated to achieve this objective.

4. What are the objectives of the antler restriction pilot project?

The key objective of the antler restriction project is to assess the biological and socioeconomic impacts of an antler restriction on white-tailed deer in the Québec context. The specific objectives are to:

  • ascertain whether the new management strategy respecting white-tailed deer populations abides by the targeted deer densities indicated in the management plan;
  • evaluate the impact of an antler restriction on the quality of hunting (success of the harvest, characteristics of the animals harvested, number of deer seen, and so on);
  • assess the impact of an antler restriction on deer populations (density, male/female ratio, recruitment, and so on);
  • evaluate the impact of an antler restriction on hunters (up-and-coming generation, diversification, and so on);
  • optimize, in the case of positive impact, the harvest potential and maximize economic spinoff from the activity;
  • obtain, in all cases, scientific data on which to base enlightened decisions in the management of deer populations in Québec.
5. In which hunting areas is the antler restriction pilot project being conducted?

The restriction is applied in zones 6 North and 6 South only, located mainly in the Estrie region. Zone 7 South, located mainly in the Centre-du-Québec region, is a control zone and hunting methods remain unchanged.

6. What restriction is applied in the context of the antler restriction pilot project?

The restriction applied limits hunting of adult male deer to those with a minimum of three points of 2.5 cm (1 inch) or more on one side of the antlers.

7. How must the number of points be counted?

All of the points that measure more than 2.5 cm (1 inch) from the base to the tip are counted.

8. Does the antler restriction pilot project apply to all hunting periods and all hunting gear?

The antler restriction covers all hunting periods and hunting gear (bow, crossbow, riffle, shotgun, muzzle-loading firearm) in zones 6 North and 6 South.

9. How long will the antler restriction pilot project last?

It is anticipated that the project will extend over five years, the time deemed necessary to properly measure the biological and socioeconomic impacts of an antler restriction.

10. Will greater numbers of licences for antlerless deer be issued in conjunction with the antler restriction pilot project?

The number of antlerless deer licences (random draw) in each hunting zone is determined annually bearing in mind several criteria, mainly the rigour of the previous winter. The number of licences issued by random draw for hunting zones 6 North and 6 South has been increased in 2017, bearing in mind the antler restriction pilot project, which is part of the criteria considered in the calculation.

11. What was the purpose of the compulsory additional antler restriction hunting licence to hunt in zones 6 North and 6 South from 2017 to 2019?

Before 2020, the regular white-tailed deer hunting licence was not associated with a specific zone and did not facilitate the collection of accurate information on hunters hunting in zones subject to the antler restriction, especially those whose hunting was unsuccessful and who did not register any deer. The antler restriction hunting licence that was to be purchased in addition to the regular hunting licence in order to hunt in zones 6 North and 6 South from 2017 to 2019 was used to measure the effort and success of hunting in the zones. It also made it possible to determine the recruitment or loss of interest of hunters over time (number of licences sold per year). The deer hunting licence became associated to a hunting zone in 2020 and the antler restriction hunting licence was no longer necessary. 

12. What must I do if I inadvertently kill a deer that does not have at least three points of 2.5 cm on one side of its antlers in zones 6 North and 6 South?

While it is the hunter’s responsibility to properly identify the animal targeted, misidentification can occur. In such a case, the hunter must promptly contact the wildlife protection office closest to the kill-site to register the animal with an officer, who will take charge of the situation. To obtain additional information on what must be done in the event of a mistaken killing, please consult the MFFP website.

13. I hunt in the zones targeted by the pilot project. Why did I not receive the survey concerning the antler restriction project?

The annual survey concerning the antler restriction project is sent to randomly selected hunters among those likely to hunt in the zones under study. If you did not receive the survey it is either because you were not randomly selected or because the postal address associated with your hunter’s certificate is out of date. If you changed postal address since you obtained your last certificate, be sure to submit to the MFFP your new address by filling out the electronic change of address form. A new random selection of survey recipients occurs annually and it is possible that you will receive the survey in the future.

14. I have other questions or comments that I would like to share with you concerning the antler restriction pilot project. How can I submit them?
If you did not find the answer to your question on this page or wish to comment on the antler restriction pilot project being conducted in zones 6 North and 6 South, please write to us at: RTLB@mffp.gouv.qc.ca.