When is Doe Harvesting Too Much?

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When is doe harvesting too much? We have harvested 1005 deer in the last 5 years. Of which, 123 are mature bucks (3.5+) and 70 are button bucks. It is now hard to see does and many, many times we see nothing but bucks on our cameras and hunting outings. We try not to shoot immature bucks by having antler restrictions, etc. The properties range from 180 acres to small 10 acre plots all in the same township, about 3000 acres of total huntable property and most of the plots are under 80 acres.



Doe harvest should be conducted for two reasons. This includes reducing the herd’s density to match the habitat’s capacity to produce quality forage (fewer mouths competing for the available forage). The second primary reason is to balance the adult sex ratio. There are other reasons such as crop damage, etc., to reduce a herd’s density. Those are political reasons — I’m only addressing biological reasons.

Since I have no idea of how many deer are in your area, I can only recommend you set your doe harvest goals based on the quality of the habitat you desire to maintain. If you desire the local herd to express its full potential, then the herd density must be low enough to allow the habitat to produce enough quality browse so that each deer has all the nutritious forage they wish to consume.

Bottom line, I establish doe harvest objectives by the goals of the landowner, and the habitat quality/herd density relationship. This relationship is way more important than simply considering the number of deer per square mile (or any other density measure that is not based on available forage).

Does become conditioned to being hunted, and can become extremely wary and nocturnal. Deer observations are an important part of hunter satisfaction, and should be considered when designing any deer harvest quota. However, deer observations by themselves are rarely a good indicator of herd or habitat health. The health of the habitat is the true indicator of a herd’s potential.

Growing Deer together,