When to Harvest Does

By GrowingDeer,

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I just watched your video (GDTV 45) and it caused me to think about the advantages and disadvantages of early-season doe harvest.

In spite of a greater doe than buck harvest on my property for the last 4 years, I still have too many does.  I haven’t done a formal survey, but I think I should take out 8-10 does on my 910 acres.  I’m split over harvesting the does right now or waiting until after the rut.  I’m sure I can find help harvesting does near the end of the season.

I would think thinning out some does now would result in stronger rutting activity which might increase my odds of harvesting a mature buck, but I’m worried about the pressure it puts on the area.  The peak rutting activity is probably only weeks away.  What do you think?

Last year we harvested three 3.5 year old or better bucks, 8 does and 1 button buck (that hunter is not invited back this year).

Congrats on your successful website and video series.  I watch it every week!



It’s better for the herd to remove the does early.  This strategy leaves more food for the remainder of the herd to consume during the winter months.  If the does are removed before the rut, the bucks won’t expend resources chasing and breeding does that will be removed from the herd.  However, it may cause some disturbance to harvest does before the rut.

The biggest problem with waiting late in the season to harvest does is that managers that use this strategy often don’t meet their harvest objective.  If you use the “after the rut” strategy for doe management, make sure you reach your doe harvest objective.  I prefer to begin harvesting does as soon as legal and continue until the objective is met.  Harvested does are usually a great attractant to bucks.  I’ve harvested many mature bucks that were sniffing a doe I’d shot previously from that stand during the same hunt.  I consider having a doe laying in front of me a good attraction for mature bucks.  I certainly don’t attempt to move the doe until that hunt is over.  By moving the doe it causes much more disturbance than simply allowing the doe to lay there.

Growing Deer together,