Discuss Quality Deer Management issues here!
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Postby whubbard » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:01 am

Here's a question.  I manage and hunt my property.  right at 300 acres.  My question is, do I hurt myself by harvesting does before the rut kicks in.  Here in Missouri bow season starts Sept. 15th.  the rut usually doesnt' start until late october even early November here in the bootheel.  I guess I'm worried that diminshing my doe population hurts my chances at a buck once the rut starts.  Any ideas?
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Postby drdaven » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:23 am

It really depends on the herd ratio.  Which I assume is askew, which is why you are asking about doe harvesting.

Most books say you should harvest as early as you can.  Two reasons:  1)  You certainly can tell the difference between an October buck fawn and an adult doe.  Not so clear in December when this little buck fawn has put on a few pounds and has outgrown the doe fawns skeletally.  So, take them as early as ethical opportunity allows.  2)  Your herd is off ratio.  This will effect the rut activity.  The better the ratio the better the rut activity.  (ie. the bucks will be roaming a bit more because there are less does to go around....more competition.)

Plus, if Missouri is like Michigan, the earliest hunt is a bowhunt.  IMO it is way more fun to harvest the does with a bow than with a gun.  Sort of makes it more of a challenge.

With 300 acres I would be looking at harvesting just a couple adult does each year.  Fill the freezer and wait for Mr. Big.  If you get him this year, fantastic.  If you don't, he will be even bigger next year.
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Postby ranwin33 » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:47 am

I agree with ddrdaven - you really need to look at your property and the deer herd in your area.  If you have a lot of does, shoot away.  If not, be more selective.
My personal experience has been on our property that no, you will not hurt yourself by harvesting does early.  We have many, many, many does - and shooting a few will only make the rut more active.  But honestly, I don't know if we could shoot enough to cause that to happen - bucks have plenty of breeding opportunities with the number of does we have in our area so even if we shoot a few there is no reason to be fighting over the girls.
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Postby msbadger » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:59 am

I agree with drdaven and add that if your concerned and if your in farm country with a nuicense permit program for farmers...check with your DNR to see how many tags around you have been given out...that will give you a better handle on what the herd really is

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Postby buckhunter21 » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:16 pm

Lots of good points here, and I think they are right on if your doe population is askew.  One thing to think about though, if your population isn't too far off, sometimes it's good to take them late, even post-rut, so as to have them on your property to draw those bucks in come the rut.  I would only recommend this though only if your population is average.

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Postby JPH » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:28 pm

This question is very much dependent on the amount of acerage, the habitat, and the herd in question.

300 acres in ag country? No, I do not think you will hurt a thing by taking a few early does if they present a good target. Now a concentrated doe hunt might be another thing. Not that it would wipe out the doe herd on such a large parcel, but it might disrupt the deer patterns enough to discourage daytime movement during the rut. I'd take it easy and only risk bunny shots, but yes I'd shoot does early if I were you.

If your hunting were confined to a micro property (250 acres or smaller) you might want to be more careful. I have found that my little No. Missouri woodlot will usually hold one resident, matriarchal doe and her immediate family. I have learned to watch the does very closely. Prior to the rut, I take only those does who appear to be satellite does, passing through the property. Post rut, I will take an old doe every few years.

I hunt another micro property in Iowa that touches up to a large, under hunted parcel. On that property it is pretty much "early and often" when it comes to doe harvest and I always look for the largest one.

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Postby Goose » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:30 pm

I agree with the dr and ranwin, I will also add that the later it gets the less likely you are to fill your tags because you put it off until later then when later comes you don't feel like going out or don't have the time.

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Postby OHhunter » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:52 pm

I will also add that the later it gets the less likely you are to fill your tags because you put it off until later then when later comes you don't feel like going out or don't have the time.

Very good point, I fall into this trap often.  In the past I would often pass does early thinking that I would spook any mature bucks in the area by tracking, gutting and dragging out a doe or two, so I would wait until late bowseason to fill my antlerless tags, After 3 months of bowseason, two gun seasons and a muzzleloader season they can become very hard to kill, especially in heavily hunted areas.  Now I try to kill them early, and try to do in stands near fields where I can drive up to them and load them up either later in the morning or after dark in the evenings.



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Postby fasteddie » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:06 pm

Shoot the does early . The bucks will be moving around looking for the does during the rut .
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Postby cdn1 » Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:00 am

I think there is an article in the magizne by Charlie Alshimer reguarding this issue.

pros to the early and the late harvest of does. Early on it is easy to differentiate between
buck fawn and doe fawns and you remove presure on the herd by taking mouths off the table from harvested does.
However if you put lots of pressure on the does and create nocturnal movement or a presured doe herd on your land. The does may relocate to less pressured areas and drag your bucks with them. So the later harvest may be the way to go if your hoping to shoot a buck.
This is where you have to decide on your goals for the property. If you want to bring the doe numbers down and get a well balanced herd.(buck to doe) then kill does early and often but if i were trying to shoot a buck (not necessarily a big one.) I'd like to have the biggest and most relaxed doe herd in the area, to draw in the greatest number of bucks increasing my odds of sucess.

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