Should We Hunt Does
The popular notion of the old school deer hunters in America is to not hunt does. I’ve actually known of hunters that apply for a doe tag just so someone who wants to harvest a doe wouldn’t get the tag and kill a doe. These hunters remember the days when it was hard just to see a deer during a hunt much less get a shot and back then it was a dyed-in-the-wool tradition not to ever shoot a doe so she could have babies. Well those days are behind us now and for many areas of the country, not all mind you, hunting does makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. The whitetail deer has adapted to many habitats. The deer were either introduced to new areas or advanced into it on their own. With that adaptation comes an explosion in deer populations across much of the U.S.
Hunting Does Helps The Deer Population
First and foremost the overall populations of deer is increasing every year with the exception of a few areas that is usually on the fringes of the whitetail range and locations where the winters are brutal and those areas are becoming milder every year therefore contributing to the expansion of the whitetail range. The notion that you should never shoot a doe is diminishing with the younger generation accepting the importance of harvesting does to help with the population explosion but to me another important aspect to harvesting does is the buck-to-doe ratio.
Deer populations continue to grow while habitat continues to dwindle every year. Leased properties and limited access to private lands contribute to the population increase. The land will only support so many deer no matter the gender. You might ask why would leased land contribute to an increases in deer populations. The answer is simple really. So many properties are leased by hunters that may not hunt that often. They have the money to lock up a piece of ground that many others could be hunting. There are many leases that are hunted once or twice a year. Even if the hunters leasing the property are good hunters they will only harvest a few deer each season. To many of these groups the deer management program consist of shooting certain size bucks. Unless these hunters have learned QDM practices oftentimes the plan does not include hunting does. A vital part of quality deer management. These factors leave many areas over run with deer while limited public lands or accessible private lands are depleted of deer, including does.
Buck To Doe Ratio
I have hunted with a bow almost exclusively for the past 15 years. Hunting with a bow forces you to examine deer behavior and by virtue of the many hours spent in a treestand I have noticed something that puzzled me for many seasons before going on a hunt where the buck-to-doe ratio is more favorable.
The buck to doe ratio is important to the hunter as well as the deer itself. Out of whack ratios causes a lot of stress on mature bucks that attempt, through instincts, to breed all the does and ensure that the strongest genes survive. These conditions cause undue stress on mature bucks leaving them vulnerable to the harsh winter to come. This only increases the number of does which leaves the buck-to-doe ratio even more out of whack and the longer this goes on the worse it gets. Nature will take care of the deer-to-habitat-ratio. Where hunting is not allowed at all nature will even take care of the buck-to-doe ratio. When there is hunting it becomes the responsibility of hunters to help nature take care of the herd. Hunting does can do this.
Too Many Does
When there are too many does, rutting activities are much less evident. There’s no reason for mature bucks to establish dominance when he knows there are more does than he can breed. Young bucks are also free to breed. When this happens it creates a subordinate gene pool within the herd. The mature buck will still try to keep these bucks away from the hot does because nature requires him to, but he can only do so much and all this activity takes it toll. Mature bucks are weakened most during the peak of the rut. Bucks breed again in December and January. Instinctively he must breed the remaining does not bred the first cycle. The extra burden on a mature buck contributes to many succumbing to the winter elements, more so than subordinate bucks. Hunting does can help.
This limited rutting activity makes it tough to locate and pattern mature bucks,. This is why maintaining a good buck-to-doe ratio is important to the trophy hunter that hunts mature bucks. I hunt mature whitetail bucks and from opening day through the rut all deer are safe except mature bucks. During the late season I’m hunting does to fill the freezer. The buck-to-doe ratio is vital to trophy hunters because it generates normal rutting activities like rubs, scrapes and fighting. This establishes dominance among the herd. Have you ever hunted places where the bucks seem to never rut and there are does everywhere? These places, more than likely, have a bad buck-to-doe ratio and with little worry of finding a doe to breed most of the movement occurs at night. When the buck has to look for does they will move more during the day to check doe bedding areas for hot does.
Hunting Does Provides Great Table Fare
I’ve hunted for over 30 years and can remember when there were fewer deer, but I never had a problem hunting does when the regulations allowed it. Cooking is one of my passions and venison is high on my list of favorite wild game for the grill or griddle. I don’t necessarily think that venison from a doe is any better than venison from a buck. I’d rather harvest a doe to allow bucks to mature. This concept makes a lot of sense to me, for one it fills my freezer with excellent table fare for the months to come, second it leaves the young bucks to mature which helps with the buck-to-doe ratio and that helps the deer as well as the hunter. Consider hunting does this season to improve your hunting area.
Another reason for hunting does Dry Rubber Backstrap