How do I determine how many does to harvest?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersDeer Management
Grant, Hello I have asked questions before and i love watching your show and your love for the creator such is mine also, it is because of you that i have decided to become i wildlife biologist from Virginia Tech!!! I love do trail cam observation each year with my grandfather it is a great joy to spend time with him in the fall!! My question is how do I know how many doe’s to harvest weighing out my population?? Thanks, Jordan


Thanks for the note!  You’ve probably already spent time intentionally seeking God’s will for your life/career. If you haven’t that’s the most important step in choosing a career!

The number of does to be harvested should be determined by the amount of quality forage available. If there’s more quality forage than deer than it’s not necessary to harvest does unless the deer herd is causing damage to society, such as crop damage, excessive car/deer accidents, etc.  

If there’s limited quality forage, especially during the normal stress periods of late summer and late winter then it will be best for the local deer population to reduce the number of does, increase the quantity of quality forage, or do both at the same time.  

The quantity of quality forage can be monitored by visual inspection and by comparing average body weights year to year. If the trend is that the average body weight is decreasing then it’s likely there are too many deer for the amount of forage. If body weights are increasing, there’s probably no need to harvest does.  

Each year will be different due to growing conditions, etc.  For example, it’s been a great growing season at The Proving Grounds. However, based on the past trend of body weights and observations of forage last year I know there are more deer than the local habitat can support during normal growing conditions. My goal is to harvest two does per 100 acres this year.

Enjoy creation,