Aging Does?

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Swandog09
 
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Aging Does?

Postby Swandog09 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:39 am

I know that Does play a large role in QDM practices however, I was wondering if there is a benefit to taking a certain age class of Does?
 
If so, what is the best way to age a Doe on the hoof?
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ranwin33
 
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RE: Aging Does?

Postby ranwin33 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:24 am

I read an article not all that long ago that said even the most seasoned hunters were unable to accurately age a buck beyond 3.5 years of age, and some of them even had difficulty beyond 2.5 years of age. 
 
So...if we find it that hard to age a buck, I'm going to say it would be next to impossible to accurately put an age to a doe in the field, other than to say she isn't a fawn or yearling.  Beyond that good luck. 
 
When it comes to does, I pretty much look at their size.  But even that doesn't work for me all that well when they're by themselves.  A couple of years ago I shot what I believed to be was a fairly small doe, but she dressed out at 115 pounds so she wasn't nearly as small as I thought she was.  She was by herself though and I had no other deer to compare her to.
 
So given my feeling that I can't age a doe, I really can't say my QDM practices revolve around trying to take a particular age class.  I just don't shoot those that have fawns running with them, or those that look real small.
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drdaven
 
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RE: Aging Does?

Postby drdaven » Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:56 am

I exercise caution when harvesting does that are alone.  Most travel in groups and I have found that an isolated doe often turns out to be a young button buck.  So, make sure you check for head gear.

I have read various articles on this matter. 

Generally, hunter agreement is that older does, that have grown wayyyyy to smart, have got to go.  Conversely, the books claim that these same older does do a much better job of rearing their young.  They claim we should be harvesting younger does, leaving the older matriarchs to do what they do best, which IMO is to bust every hunter within the mile. 

That being said, I fall back to the mindset of most hunters.  Slay the smartest one in the bunch.  You know the one.  All the other deer just wander by and the last one follows your scent trail to your stand then stomps and snorts to warn the entire herd.  She's GOTTA GO!
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Woods Walker
 
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RE: Aging Does?

Postby Woods Walker » Sat Oct 10, 2009 2:26 am

Other than teeth, there's no way but to guess.
 
Some have said that if the doe has twins, that she's in at least her second season of raising young, which would make he 2.5 years old. I don't know for sure if this is true or not.
 
What IS true is that some of those old does are harder to hunt than some big bucks. REAL hard.
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buckhunter21
 
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RE: Aging Does?

Postby buckhunter21 » Sat Oct 10, 2009 5:15 pm

What IS true is that some of those old does are harder to hunt than some big bucks. REAL hard.

 
I agree WW, I don't think does get enough credit.  The average hunter thinks that does are easy to hunt, and just those big, bad bucks are the hardest to hunt...But like you said, those old does can be some of the wisest animals and the hardest to hunt!
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JPH
 
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RE: Aging Does?

Postby JPH » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:46 am

ORIGINAL: Swandog09

I know that Does play a large role in QDM practices however, I was wondering if there is a benefit to taking a certain age class of Does?

If so, what is the best way to age a Doe on the hoof?

 
To begin with, I hold that there is a benifit to taking does of a certain age classes. I think this is particularly ture on smaller properties or in places where the deer numbers are moderate to low.
 
My personal experience, trying to manage a very small property with a moderate herd, has lead me to begin protecting older does. I feel that older does tend to "set up shop" on good breeding habitat. They also seem to keep a small family group of younger deer in the area, taking their cues from her. This will in turn make visits from mature bucks likely during the rut. Whereas when I have killed old does on my woodlot, the rest of the herd seems nervous and harder to pattern. However, as your hunting area grows, I think aging becomes less important.
 
If overpopulation is a concern, I would lean more toward killing the older, more fertile does. I hunt a couple of farms where this is an issue.
 
Now how you age them on the hoof is another issue. Just as with bucks, it is educated guesswork at best. I try to place does into three age categories. Fawns, young does, and old does.
 
Fawns = Small, boxy form, short necks, short heads, small ears. Often appear lost.
Young does = Sleek, slender, big ears. Will often back off in the presence of older does.
Old does = Big bodies, long heads, long necks, meaty brisket. Will often be the most alert and cautious deer in a herd. Also will push other does from prime food sources. May sometimes display dominance.
 
Again, educated guesses. Good luck! 

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ranwin33
 
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RE: Aging Does?

Postby ranwin33 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:47 am

ORIGINAL: JPH

My personal experience, trying to manage a very small property with a moderate herd, has lead me to begin protecting older does. I feel that older does tend to "set up shop" on good breeding habitat. They also seem to keep a small family group of younger deer in the area, taking their cues from her. This will in turn make visits from mature bucks likely during the rut. Whereas when I have killed old does on my woodlot, the rest of the herd seems nervous and harder to pattern. However, as your hunting area grows, I think aging becomes less important. 
 

X2
 
I've found by keeping older does on our property we always have a group of deer around.
“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
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jsjandro
 
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RE: Aging Does?

Postby jsjandro » Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:08 pm

with wuts been said i agree and disagree. yes, age is the most important thing to base harvest on - buck or does. i always take the oldest animals buck or doe.  reason being is that if hunters across the board did this there would ALWAYS be a fresh crop of underlings - thats why antler point restrictions work so well. as animals get older they absorb more about their home range and become the wind...
 
i also harvest intentionally younger does in areas that need doe harvest bad, but i always focus on the older animals.  like said before, 3 classes are field id-able, fawns, yearlings, and oldies. the skull of a deer is the only bone that continues to grow past age 3.  as does get older, they get bigger and longer heads - but their bodies don't always follow suit.  remember, if the animal is nutritionally stressed or living in an overpopulated landscape for the first 3 years till skelatel maturity it will not be as long in the spine or as tall to the back, but can still have a long head and worn teeth - got this up here in north wi.  i shot a doe early this season that was missing 1 tooth and was worn to the gums like ive never seen before yet was not the biggest doe ive shot.
 
lastly, i wish like mad people would stop protecting old does to make sure bucks roll around.  u dont need them, i harvest with bow early in season as many oldies as i can and still got 3.5 yr + bucks coming thru in november from far away lands - not the locals.  i know it helps to have the old ones but it seems that hunters do this unneccesarily and im not too certain they understand the reproductive capacities of the oldies - which is why the deer herd in my area is sooo skewed to does and over-pop. if everyone would just shoot them the area as a whole would be even better in terms of rutting behavior and sign earlier in season.
only if we had antler point restrictions...:(

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