You can generally take as numerous does together bucks in a healthy heard, but these work you must be careful around shooting too many.


As a teenager in Texas in the 1950s, I conveniently learned ns shouldn’t shoot does. That was a standard no-no back in those days. But as the turned out, it also was bad advice — or at least incomplete.

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In the era not lengthy after people War II, deer-management initiatives were still being aimed in ~ restoring populations ravaged by the overhunting abuses of the 19th century. The require to manage deer number wasn’t also a far-reaching concern in administration when ns was a kid. Several generations that hunters had actually grown mindful of the should let the herd grow.

Yet I also recall that just over a decade later on I stood by an east Texas campfire, do the efforts to to convince members the a hunting club the they actually essential to begin shooting some does. Ns was representing the timber company that own the land these men hunted, and also at that meeting I handed out part antlerless permits. I later learned the after ns left, the hunters ceremoniously shed them.

Some 10 year later, the east Texas herd crashed indigenous overpopulation. The state then checked out a mechanism using “doe days,” making the legal come shoot antlerless deer only on specific dates. Together always, that didn’t work well, either.


Today, most eastern Texas hunters completely accept the require for doe harvest. In fact, many hunters across the whitetail’s selection see it as a legitimate monitoring practice. Yet questions about doe removed remain. The most typical questions I’m asked include: (1) How plenty of does must we shoot? (2) i m sorry ones have to we take out? and (3) When have to they be harvested? Let’s attend to those points.


A Brief history Lesson

In most places, earlier in the ’70s whitetail herds were cultivation at one exponential rate. In fact, here in the South, numbers were practically doubling yearly, and it seemed to most specialists there would be no limit to the number of does we can remove. Specifically in the South and Midwest, transforming land-use methods favored an explode of deer foods. There additionally were few predators or illness to consider. It was a basic ecosystem come manage.

In this setting we produced a short-lived ide of deer harvest based on what’s recognized as compensatory response. That is, if we harvested more does, the remainder comment by recruiting much more fawns into the herd. Improved nutrition enabled for that.

This was a concept hard to sell to the public, yet it was valid. Most adult does provide two fawns, yet only a portion live to with one year of age. That percent we call the recruitment rate. ~ above highly productive range, recruitment have the right to be 80-90 percent, eventually resulting in a runaway herd that ultimately depletes its habitat and crashes.

The deer ecosystem isn’t fairly that an easy today. Aging the forests, clean agriculture, the climb of one impressive selection of large predators and an illness have complex management. Hunters currently are contending for a source that is limited and needs to be common with a host of mortality agents.


Setting her Doe Limit

So the question as to how numerous deer come harvest has actually a complex answer. Ideally, each year you should be able to take the number recruited, minus various other mortality factors. If you have actually a 100-acre property housing 10 deer (a ratio of 1 buck come 3 walk (2-3 bucks and also 7-8 does) and a doe herd the recruits at just 45 percent, you need to share an annual crop that 3-4 deer. And that’s just the yearlings!

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In a healthy herd, you normally can take at least as numerous does as bucks. Yet these days, it is in careful around shooting too many.(Photo through Ron Rowan/ShutterStock)

Assuming the ideal case, we have actually two bucks and also two does coming right into the herd as yearlings. Enabling for 1-2 per year mortality, that method there will be 1.8 bucks and also 1.8 does reaching the age of 2 1/2. And also that’s if anyone refrains native killing any kind of bucks together yearlings! If we shoot the bucks at age 2 1/2 and leave the does, the sex ratio will continue to it is in skewed toward the mrs side.

So before giving one answer, I typically ask how many bucks the human being is taking off the property. Then i say, “You deserve to shoot a doe because that every buck girlfriend harvest.” There’s no such point as a “cookbook” recommendation, but I’ve seen few properties with great deer habitat prove unable to sustain an annual doe harvest that at least 1 per 100 acres.


Identifying Target Does

Doe social teams are comprised of mothers, daughters, grandmothers and also aunts. One doe rules the group. Ns refuse to call these “doe groups,” to like the ax “clan.”

My an excellent friend miles White is a hunter, not a biologist. Yet as he started regulating his land, he determined right away that there’s a require to resolve the “which does” question. He asked me what wake up to the truth of the clan if one doe is removed. Removing simply one most likely doesn’t disrupt the clan’s society structure, yet shooting number of is a various story. Therefore what I try to teach landowners and managers is to harvest no much more than one doe per social group annually.

It’s a an excellent idea to prevent removing the matriarch. Therefore don’t just shoot does randomly. Take time to examine the group’s behavior and also learn i m sorry one is the boss. Climate pick an additional one.

Timing The Harvest

Lastly, when should you shoot does? There room two answers: one native a biologist’s perspective, one from a manager’s. The biologist in me states to shoot castle as early in the season as possible, to obtain those mouths turn off the range before an ext forage is consumed. The manager in me states to shoot castle later, as as well much beforehand hunting pressure will adjust buck habits and affect overall harvest success.

As a hunter, I’ve learned to decide to take a doe and also then go out with the goal of simply doing just that. Otherwise, it’s simple to fail. How regularly have you totally intended come shoot a doe, only to clock one arise from the woodland edge, stop and also looks back? You begin to second-guess her harvest decision and wonder if there’s a buck behind her. Girlfriend let her walk out of check out . . . And also then a fawn actions out. Your chance is gone.

To protect against this scenario, set aside a distinct duration during which your entire hunting group commits come the plan of harvesting only does. You deserve to decide ahead of time as to the number, based on the herd data you’ve collected.

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In Conclusion

While the values of deer management are easy to grasp, their application is rarely straightforward to practice. It seemed so in the old days, when there to be a deer behind every bush, however in most places times have actually changed. Us now understand that it’s possible to “collapse” a herd by shoot too many does.

To do sound harvest decisions, study your deer ~ above a year-round basis, at the very least through the use of well-distributed trace cameras. Discover to acknowledge doe groups and their composition. Setup ahead as to which ones come take, then lug out the plan. Your reward will be a well-managed herd — and some good venison come boot!