Do you like the earn a buck program?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersDeer Management
We hunt about 2 hours from your farm, basically due east, near West Plains, Mo. We follow the guidelines of earning a buck tag, in other words, you have to harvest a doe before you get to shoot a buck. Is this a realistic practice that would help get the doe to buck ratio back to around 1:2 or 1:1.5? I know it has worked on our farm for the last 6 years. It has also made the other guys better hunters. When we run our population census on 500 acres, our numbers come back around 1:1.3. Calling with grunts and rattling has improved greatly, and our mature buck sightings/harvests have gone up. Is this something you practice on your farm, and do you think MDC would even consider this?

Thanks for your time.


Sounds like you have a great deer management program!  States like Wisconsin and New Jersey had/has an earn a buck program. Hunters generally hate this program so I doubt it will ever be considered by MDC.  

I simply shoot almost every doe I legally can on my farm and asked my guests to do the same.  As you know, were basically limited to harvesting does with a bow in southern Missouri so it’s tough to over harvest does in areas with good quality habitat and where the predator populations have been balanced with prey species.  Currently the deer herd’s adult sex ratio at my place near Branson is almost balanced – almost 1:1.  

I had a research project in South Carolina for 11 years.  In that area there was no bag limit on bucks from August 15th through January 1st – with rifles and using corn and dogs! The local deer herds had very unbalanced adult sex ratios. I required all the hunters to tag five doe before harvesting a buck.  After 11 years the observed adult sex ratio was 3.1 bucks per doe!!!  It was amazing how well rattling, grunt calls, scrape hunting, etc., worked!!  

Keep leading by example!  It’s always better to educate than legislate!  

Enjoy creation,


November 11, 2015