Button Buck Dispersal

By GrowingDeer,

  Filed under: ,

← Grant's AnswersAsk Grant
Does shooting a doe that has her buck fawn with her in early fall mean that that buck fawn will stay in that area rather than being pushed out by his mother?  If so, after years of this practice would inbreeding become a problem?

Thank you much for everything that you do on this site.  Can we get more episodes?  My week feels longer as I wait in anticipation for the next show, almost as bad as waiting to check a trail cam!!

Thanks much,



Thanks for the kind words!  A fellow grad student while I was at the University of Georgia addressed this question by placing telemetry equipment on approximately 20 does that had male buck fawns (these were free-ranging deer).  He removed half of the does after their fawns were weaned.  In the group that he removed the does, most of the now yearling bucks survived the next hunting season compared to only one yearling buck from the group of does that were not harvested.  It appeared the high rate of survival was because this group of yearling bucks didn’t disperse.  The doe was not there to drive these yearling bucks out of their home range.  Other studies have shown similar, but not as significant results.

Although inbreeding is frequently blamed for poor antler development, low rates of fawn survival, and other undesirable characteristics, it has never been shown to be a problem in free-ranging, wild white-tailed deer.  The genetic make-up of white-tailed deer is extremely diverse.  I believe it would take many, many generations to result in a problem.  In fact, folks that hold deer in captivity use inbreeding among their herds in an effort to pass on desirable traits (so do beef farmers, dairy farmers, etc.).  I’m sure this could result in problems after several generations, but the odds of that happening for several generations in a free-ranging, wild population of deer are extremely low.  It is simply not a concern.  I and my clients have literally harvested 1,000’s of does during the course of my career and have been blessed to watch the herd quality improve in many quantifiable ways.

I strongly encourage you to harvest enough does to balance the local herd’s adult sex ratio and limit the herd’s density to a level that each deer has ample quality forage year round.

Growing Deer together,