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Grant's Blog

Thoughts from the field

How do you decide how many white-tailed does to harvest off a hunting property?

Hello Grant,

What do you think about shooting does?  And when ?

One of my leases is about 205 acres in Chappells, South Carolina.  I have had this lease for 2 years and have just renewed for two more.  We have only killed 3 bucks on this land, all 15” to 18.5” and 155 – 185 lbs.  I try not to over hunt this lease and have talked to other hunters to see if they would let small basket rack deer go.  Some will and some won’t.  I think they shoot a fair amount of does, so my thinking was if I am seeing a good number of does then the bucks will show up soon.  Also Josh is my wife’s cousin!!  God bless you and thank you for helping me understand deer and making the outdoors better than we found it!!  Lots of luck hunting!!

Jeff

Jeff,

I still have some friends that hunt in that area of South Carolina!  I used to live in Abbeville.  I use doe harvest to accomplish two deer management objectives.  These are to balance the adult sex ratio and to ensure each deer has ample quality forage to meet my deer management objectives.

Observation data and/or a camera survey can be used to accurately estimate the adult sex ratio.  I like an adult sex ratio of 1:1 for my management objectives.  I also like deer to express their full potential of producing antlers and fawns for each age class.  Therefore, I want more quality forage than then herd will consume.  This means quality forage left during the two typical stress periods of late summer and late winter.

If deer are consuming all of the quality forage, then a doe harvest is in order.  Once that is determined, I harvest enough does to either balance the adult sex ratio and/or allow enough food to be available to ensure each deer has all they wish to consume during the stress periods.  To meet that goal, I start harvesting does when the season opens.  I harvest the first doe that presents a safe shot.  I don’t select young or mature does for harvest because both have advantages to the herd.  Hence a harvest of what’s available will usually result in a mix of all age classes.

I hope this information helps and that you enjoy a safe and enjoyable deer management program!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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