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Does, Does and More Does


When sportsmen and women are looking for recreational properties in the Carolinas or Georgia, and all across the

Taking does always helps your herd and table

country, many have one thing in mind – big bucks. However, considering a good ole adage from a reputable horse breeder who says; “a lot of people forget that half of the genes come from the mare – there is too much emphasis on the stallion.” The same can be said for whitetails. A lot of research has gone into the need of age, nutrition and good genetics for growing big racks. Of these three only two can be somewhat controlled by the hunters. We can provide nutrition via supplemental feeding programs and food plots. We can allow them to live longer by not harvesting younger bucks and outside of natural events, the bucks will grow old. What we cannot control is the does they choose to breed with and the other half of the gene pool.

As a hunter who loves venison, I am quick to put does into the freezer. I try and do this long before the breeding season kicks in for a variety of reasons. Lindsay Thomas of the Quality Deer Management Association says that “shoot them as early in the season as possible.” Doing so accomplishes several things. First, it helps with the buck doe ratio, reducing the number of does available at breeding thereby enhancing the breeding activity. Second, it helps to put your herd in better balance, and lastly, it takes the pressure off of late season scrambling to fill the freezer.

One question that has often come up when the discussion of harvesting does is discussed is “which does do I shoot?” As a rule of thumb, a big ole mature doe can be very difficult to kill. She has lived several years and successfully avoided predation by human and others. She is that “mare” referred to in the opening paragraph. She has proven her worth and needs to live and successfully breed. When given the opportunity to harvest a big old doe, I usually pass. It comes down to understanding she is still fertile, she is successful, and it stands to reason, she will successfully rear her fawns into adulthood. A 1.5 year old doe, is just getting into her first breeding season, this is the one I will target. Size wise, she is smaller than the 3.5 year old doe, but she will accomplish good herd management, and good table fare.

Sadly, in the hunting world there are still hunters who refuse to harvest does. In a recent conversation with a very successful hunter, whose asked me not to share his name told me with pride; “I have shot over 400 bucks in my life and have never shot a doe.” When asked why, his answer is simple for him, “I hunt bucks, any legal buck (which in his area is any buck with antlers of 2” or larger) that steps into my sights gets shot.”

While one of the main goals of the QDMA is to educate hunters like this and others, it does nothing to helping the deer in his area. Admittedly, he sees fewer and fewer bucks each year and is overrun with does. As hunters who cherish our deer, and wildlife in general, shooting does is part of what we do. Everyone I know who hunts deer would love to put their hands around some large antlers, this is more possible when we shoot more does and control the population of our overall herd.