Should I harvest a doe from my 100 acres in Wisconsin?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersDeer Management
Struggling with harvesting does.

While preseason showed lots of doe/fawns (15+) and bucks (8+ total, 3 shooters and 5 smaller) traveling through my 100+ acre Wisconsin property, as archery season rolled around, and then worse yet during our gun season, everything just disappeared. Neighbors complaining about the same thing. Looking to add some (any) meat to the freezer, I considered taking any doe that would come by, but now my concern is taking a doe after rut.

If I don’t have enough does or should I say deer period (since I saw limited amounts of deer during actual season), how can I take a doe when she may be caring a fawn or two?….. I’m really old school at 54 and remembering my dad saying shooting a doe is like shooting 3 deer, but I do understand the new trend of carrying capacity.

Any advise you can shed on the subject would maybe help set me straight.

Thanks for your time and a great website and show.


I’m 54 also!  I had the same conversations about tagging does with my father.  

We’ve learned a lot about managing deer since those conversations.  Whether to harvest does should be based on two factors. These include:

1. the current balance between the number of deer and the amount of quality food

2. the adult sex ratio

The first factor is most important.  If there’s ample quality forage available during the late summer and late winter (common stress periods for deer) then it’s not necessary to harvest does.  Taking a few does for meat won’t hurt the herd but an aggressive doe harvest isn’t necessary.  If there’s more deer than quality food during the two stress periods than an purposeful doe harvest will benefit the herd and habitat.

Deer herd’s can function with an adult sex ratio skewed toward females.  However, the research is clear that herds with a balanced adult sex ratio and older age bucks is healthier. 

So – evaluate the number of deer compared to the quantity of quality food in your area.  If there’s plenty of quality browse and you want to see more deer, then I recommend going light on the doe harvest.  If deer in your area are making a living on twigs and tree leaves, it might be wise to take a doe and work on improving the habitat qualitiy.

Enjoy creation,


December 30, 2015