Georgia Hunting Land For Sale South Carolina Hunting Land For Sale North Carolina Hunting Land For Sale Hunting Land and Recreational Property For Sale

Should You Kill Does

Ruth with a doe

Ruth with a doe


As we develop a harvest plan for our properties, one of the most debated elements for land owners and managers is should you kill does? How many does should you kill?

The answer to this very complex question is not a simple one. As we discussed last week, deciding how many does to kill is really dependent upon your particular ground. A decade ago, all biologists in the southeast were telling us to kill every doe we saw because the population was out of control. Today, with a constant decline in harvest for the past half-decade we are revisiting this philosophy. One doe can produce as many as 12-14 offspring in a seven year period the normal breeding period for a doe. With half of these being female, and these female being capable of breeding at their second year, and so forth, killing one doe from your herd actually removes sixteen deer from your herd over the life of that specific doe. If you calculate the impact of the future generations that could have come from the lost offspring, it doesn’t take long to realize that killing one doe can have a long and significant impact on your overall herd health.

Having said this, should we kill does? The short answer is maybe. Maybe we should and maybe not it really depends on your herd survey and the amount of deer on your property. The most important thing to understand is that when you kill a doe, you haven’t killed one deer, you have killed every deer this particular doe would produce and subsequent other deer that can be produced. While the old recommendation was to remove as many doe as you could, in the Carolina’s and Georgia and many other places across the country, this philosophy is changing. As deer numbers continue to decline the practice of killing does is being reexamined.

In practice on our property we made the decision to stop killing does for two years to see if we noticed an increase in deer sightings. What we noticed was a marked difference in the population as defined by sightings while hunting. After two years, we noticed that our sightings of doe and buck increased by over 40%. While this is certainly not scientific in any means, it is a snapshot of our particular property and what we have documented. Your individual circumstances can and will dictate a different outcome. But this does not change the point. Before you just go out on a killing spree, think about the long term effects and decide if killing that doe for meat is really a good idea.

While researching this, I came across one interesting point I would kike to share. Many biologists are suggesting that if you are going to kill some does from your herd. Shoot the yearlings, or the sub-adults rather that the old mature doe. Their logic is that the older mature does have experience in rearing young and are better at getting fawns to adulthood based on experience. The one or two year old females have little to no experience at motherhood and are perhaps the best ones to take out of the herd if you are determined to remove some of the doe on your property.

Killing does is and will remain a hot topic all across the country. Regardless of where you fall in the discussion, make informed decisions and do so with the long term effects in mind.