How to Set Harvest Objectives
Filed under: Ask Grant, Deer Biology, Hunting Tactics
I have some questions about doe harvest goals and strategies. How do you go about setting your harvest goals for The Proving Grounds? Do you mainly base this on trail camera surveys and deer sightings? Is your ultimate goal to have a 1:1 doe:buck ratio?
On our small farm in south central Kansas we have never practiced any kind of doe harvest. We have loads of agriculture crops in the area and are able to grow a lot of big deer and carry them through the winter. Very few people have permission to hunt any of the land within 3-4 square miles of us. The more I learn about deer management the more I hear about doe:buck ratios and the more I wonder if I should be actively harvesting does. I’m already planning to run a camera survey in August to see what I come up with, but I’m trying to get a strategy set for this hunting season. Any information you can pass along on the subject would be great!
Deer harvest goals should be based on the long-term management goals for a property. My deer management objectives for The Proving Grounds include:
- Provide enough quality forage year round so each deer can express their full potential.
- A balanced or skewed toward bucks adult sex ratio to facilitate a synchronized fawn drop and an intensive rut for my guests and I to enjoy.
To meet these goals, I use utilization cages and monitor the amount of quality forage available during August and February/March. If quality food is scarce during these times, I know I need to remove more adult does from the local herd. I also monitor body weights, antler growth per age class, etc., to confirm that deer are or are not expressing their full potential. Such analyses shouldn’t be made from one deer, but from an average of all observations.
I use trail cameras to collect data on the adult sex ratio, average antler development, fawn recruitment, etc.
On the buck side, my guests and I attempt to harvest bucks that are 4 ½ years old and older. I make an exception for my children, which have the green light to harvest any deer that presents a safe opportunity.
In summary, I use several indicators to monitor the condition of the herd, and design my harvest program to achieve my herd and habitat management objectives.
Growing Deer together,