Re: PA moving in the right direction
I think a factor to consider is that an older buck is a much smarter buck.
If the button buck makes it through the antlerless season, he's around his mom or the doe group, who help keep him safe.
Then as a 1-1/2, he either goes on his own or with a group of small bucks, or is eventually forced out in the fall.
So with his small, first-year rack, he's one of the least experienced deer out there in terms of avoiding hunters on his own. This is the easiest one to kill, so to speak. Back in the day, a high probability of bang-dead.
Now as a protected deer, he's much less vulnerable as he's off-limits for the majority of hunters. Much better odds he lives through that hunting season and is a LOT smarter now.
So not only does AR allow bucks to reach a better stage of physical maturity, it allows them to "graduate" from being educated as hunter's prey. Now being that much harder to kill, and more of them, more chances for bucks to live to 3-1/2, 4-1/2 and beyond.
A closed mind keeps the truth out