By Harrison Hoegh
Last Saturday I shot a doe. I wanted to get some venison, balance out the herd, and just enjoy hunting deer regardless of antler size. Here are a few ways to decide when and where you should harvest a doe.
Though it can be easy to hunt the field where all the does congregate to feed in the afternoon, I would advise finding a less travelled trail where one or two deer walk by at a time. By setting up in this way, you limit how many deer are educated about your tree stand when you shoot the deer. One example is the concealed stand option I mentioned in my September 28th blog. This is a tree stand location between two cornfields that lead to a feeding area. This stand is a good spot to shoot a deer with limited intrusion because the deer have no reason to stop while they travel between cornfields to their beds. This lessens the possibility of deer smelling you or herding up before you shoot.
The early season offers a few advantages to shooting a doe with limited effects on bucks. Because bucks are traveling less it is possible to find a spot to shoot a doe that a buck won’t travel by for a few weeks. I made a mock scrape and discovered there was only a three year old eight point was hitting that area consistently. Early in the season, there are few bucks pushing through and there is enough time for rain to wash away scent before neighboring bucks start moving through during the rut.
I once emailed Drury outdoors to see their approach to herd management and here is what they said,
“They are born at 1:1 so that’s optimum.. Reality is generally 3-5 does per 1 buck…Good luck! -Mark.”
So I try to shoot at least one doe each year.
Which doe to shoot
I question shooting the most mature doe in the herd. A mature doe is likely the smartest deer in the herd, and can often bust you from your stand, but they are also the most experienced mothers, and don’t taste as good as a two or three year old does. Furthermore, a mature doe will be the first to go into estrous, so if you’re anxious to get the rut started, or want the rut to last longer, don’t shoot the oldest doe. I aim for a middle of the pack doe to optimize herd strength, taste, and rut length.
My approach comes down to limiting the chance of ruining a tree stand, future buck possibilities, and the best way to manage a herd. I will post a video to show a few other aspects of how I approached this hunt. Let me know if you have a different approach or any questions.