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View Full Version : The age old question - Doe Management...


npaden
11-10-2008, 01:53 PM
Okay, I'm debating whether to shoot a doe again this year. Last year I shot a 2 1/2 year old buck and this year I've already shot a 7 1/2+ year old buck, but in 2 years of owning the property I've never shot a doe. The guy who owned the property before me didn't deer hunt and the neighbors that I've talked to seemed to indicate that they've always tried to have a balanced harvest of bucks and does.

With that said, my buck to doe ratio still seems skewed toward more bucks than does. Trail camera census is about 6 to 1 bucks to does and sitting on the stand I saw 5 different unique bucks in 2 days and zero does. (3 yearling bucks, 1 - 2 1/2 year old and the 7 1/2+ year old)

The area my land is in is still regaining deer density and does not seem overpopulated from a browse perspective at all. I do have 1 resident doe that I can identify by a split on her ear and last year she had twin buck fawns and this year she had twins as well but not sure of their sex yet as I haven't got a good enough picture on the trail cameras.

I'm leaning toward not shooting a doe if I see one. I'm still going to try to shoot a few pigs as they do as much if not more habitat destruction than any deer could, but I just don't see the ratio out of whack and I don't think we are looking at an overpopulation issue. The typical deer density in my area is still only 15 - 20 deer per square mile. My property is probably a little higher than that but not a whole lot.

Am I off base here? I always hear that doe management is one of the cornerstones of a good QDM plan but I just can't bring myself to shoot the 1 doe that I've regularly seen on my property in the last 2 years. I did see 2 does in person once last year, but it wasn't a regular occurence. I did see the doe and her fawns earlier in the year in person before hunting season, but haven't seen her in several months and only get an occasional trail camera picture of her.

Thanks in advance for any input or advice.

Nathan

asmith
11-10-2008, 03:29 PM
Your sightings and trailcam pic numbers are nearly opposite from what most people would report. Are you hunting any food plots, or have cams on plots? Is that where the numbers come from, or from woods?
Sounds like the does need left alone for couple more years in your area.

MDuffy
11-10-2008, 04:11 PM
Don't shoot.

npaden
11-10-2008, 05:07 PM
Trail cameras are set up on a spin feeder that has corn in it and a protein feeder that is free choice but it has a 30" tall fence around it to keep the hogs away. I think the does don't frequent it as much because the bucks dominate it and their fawns can't jump the fence very easily. They did use it last winter even when they were pregnant but the ratios were still way less than bucks. I planted a few food plots but they seem hit or miss on being used by the deer, but the pigs seem to really like them though! :rolleyes:

I have 2 cameras out on trails and I get about the same ratios with them, 2 or 3 bucks pretty regularly every day and every few days a doe and her fawns.

I have 2 spikes this year that I'm pretty sure are last years twin buck fawns from the split ear doe which would help explain why they are spikes this year along with the hot and dry summer that we had.

The only time I regularly get pictures of does is late winter and early spring and summer, in the fall I don't see anything but bucks. I'm not really complaining, but I do like deer meat and just feel like I'm shirking my responsibility as a good deer manager somehow by not shooting does. I see everyone bragging about how many does they shoot and I haven't shot a doe on my property yet!

Oh well, I'm still working on the property. I'm sure one of these days I'll be overrun with does and then I'll be complaining about it! :D

asmith
11-10-2008, 05:21 PM
Oh well, I'm still working on the property. I'm sure one of these days I'll be overrun with does and then I'll be complaining about it! :D
You won't be overrun if you begin shooting them at the right time and in the right numbers.
That's management. Have fun at it.
BTW, I learned from some on this site to take the does out way before the rut. That makes fewer does at rut time so the bucks have to do more looking for them. It also means I take out a doe, I'm taking only one deer instead of two or three, the doe plus her unborns. So, the does that remain through rut get bred and produce more deer for me to manage next year, and maybe produce that monster I want.

banc123
11-10-2008, 05:28 PM
Odds are the equal # of does or more per buck you're seeing are out there, just not visiting your property for could be a number of reasons. If it were 1-2 does on 1,000 acres that might be a little different. Sounds like it comes down to "better deer hunting" and would it improve by taking a doe with limited numbers on your property. Could be taking one of the does (or only doe) could change the social dynamic and bring in other doe(s). I also think its safe to say taking 1 doe isn't going to throw a big wrench into things long term. So its personal choice and probably no right answer beyond whatever it is you decide.

npaden
11-10-2008, 05:38 PM
I think a very big part of it is that I only have 160 acres. If I spent time or did trail camera censuses on any of the properties around me I might find a different story, but I'm pretty sure the census and personal observations are accurate and there are several more bucks on my property than there are does.

I really feel like I have a pretty good handle on what is hanging out on my property with a total of 5 full time trail cameras on 160 acres now, and another one that plays part time duty due to it's short battery life. I spend a decent amount of time throughout the year there as well and generally am in the blind in the evenings trying to shoot some pigs anytime I'm down there, so I get to see deer activity throughout the year as well.

I think part of it could be that the split ear doe is probably a dominant doe and keeps some of the other does away from the area. I'm not sure if that is good or bad.

If her twin fawns this year are does then I won't be asking this question next year. :D

dprogers
11-10-2008, 06:35 PM
Sounds like a pretty good balance to me and if you are not seeing any results of overpopulation such as overbrowsing etc, then I would not be concerned. You will be monitioring and can take the necessary steps if the situation changes. I absolutely agree on taking out the hogs and you will do more to improve the habitat by doing that as you will anything else.

TrademarkTexan
11-10-2008, 08:36 PM
Here are some random thoughts, some have already been mentioned:

1) You might have the lowest-preferrence habitat in your immediate area...Does usually claim the highest quality range in an area.

2) You might have Doe family groups with ranges that overlap parts of your land that don't have cameras/stands.

3) You might have 1 dominant Doe that monopolizes your land (if this were the case, though, you'd expect to see fewer bucks, and you'd expect her to have more of her past Doe fawns around)

4) You could be in an un-known cycle where the Buck/Doe population on your place changes from time to time, and you happen to be in a low-cycle for Does, for unknown reasons.

So...now that I've solved all your problems ;) I would recommend you focus on hog reduction...this will do just what Doe management would achieve-reduce the carrying load on the available habitat and forage, until you get a few more years of data to work with.

BTW, I haven't seen a picture of "double-wide" you mentioned in another post you just killed.

npaden
11-10-2008, 08:46 PM
Thanks for the input. I guess I'm leaning toward the dominant doe theory. I know her last 3 fawns (counting the twins this year) have all been bucks.

I think I have as good if not better habitat than the area around me with zero cattle on my property vs. all the other properties around me have active cattle grazing and I at least make an attempt at food plots and have year round supplemental feeding vs. most of the properties around me only feed corn during hunting season. We are in a fairly low density area though and I think it can support a few more deer than it currently is so I'm going to hold off now.

As far as doublewide - I posted it in the Happy Hunters forum. He lost a lot of antler from last year but I was still very happy to take him!

Here is the link - http://www.qdmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=20197

npaden
11-21-2008, 06:52 PM
Well, I spent another day hunting and did see a doe this time. I videotaped her and had an easy shot opportunity at less than 50 yards but I didn't pull the trigger. She looked like a fairly young doe (1.5 or 2.5) and she wasn't the dominate split ear doe that I see during the summer. If I had seen the split ear doe I may have been more tempted to pull the trigger. I think this doe was just moving through. That makes 1 doe and 6 unique bucks seen in 3 days on the stand. The bad thing is that I didn't kill any pigs. I've gotten a few more unique bucks on camera as well, but hardly any doe pictures.

The state parks and wildlife department is increasing our bag limits for our county to 4 does for each hunter but keeping the limit at 1 buck. Here's the quote from their site.

Another possible change would increase the bag limit from three deer to five deer (no more than one buck) in selected counties in the western Rolling Plains. Although white-tailed deer densities are highly variable in this part of the state, areas containing suitable habitat have become saturated with deer and whitetails are expanding into marginal to poor habitat.

Browsing pressure is severe in these areas, where little woody vegetation exists within five feet of the ground. The proposal would provide additional hunting opportunity while addressing a resource concern. Counties affected include: Armstrong, Briscoe, Carson, Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Donley, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hardeman, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Kent, King, Lipscomb, Motley, Ochiltree, Roberts, Scurry, Stonewall, and Wheeler.

I'm not sure if I'm in the marginal habitat to begin with or what, because I'm not seeing the severe browsing pressure although I don't have a lot of preferred browse to begin with. The few preferred browse trees that I do have, don't show signed of being overbrowsed though, and I don't see any kind of browse line.

I may try to get the local state biologist to come and look at my property again now that I've had it for a while and see if he can give me any more specific recommendations.

Oh well, still debating on the subject.

Nathan

USFWC
11-21-2008, 11:30 PM
Thanks for the input. I guess I'm leaning toward the dominant doe theory. I know her last 3 fawns (counting the twins this year) have all been bucks.

I'd suggest keeping your 'harvest ratio' the same and taking her...even more so if the buck fawns haven't dispersed to reduce the likelihood that they will do just that...disperse.

As far as being a 'dominant' doe, she may be that, but I have never seen a dominant doe that didn't maintain a 'family' group. Dominant does have a completely different mentality than do dominant bucks...they want the social interaction as it translates into added security for themselves and their offspring. I would tend to believe that she is either a doe that, for whatever reason, was cast out of her old family group, which would make her to some degree a 'subordinate' doe that, as you stated, may have only had buck fawns since being cast out and therefore hasn't been able to build her own family group. She may have also been a part of another family group that had been harvested, leaving her 'orphaned' to start her own. You just never know unless you have followed the individual's entire life cycle. The results of harvesting her are mostly positive, but the decision on one deer does not make or break a QDM program, consistently ignoring trends does. The trend that you are seeing is a sex ratio in favor of the bucks. You have the choice of either trying to maintain that by harvesting the doe or continuing to monitor the trends in the population and adjusting your harvest decisions next for season. Either way, there really is no wrong decision at this point.

Arditta farm
11-22-2008, 12:05 AM
I'l bet the rattlle bag gets alot of use, sounds like the perfect place for it. Good luck with your management, hope it works out the way you want it to, and bust few hogs for me too.:)

mod15
11-22-2008, 01:56 AM
I have not shot a doe this year or do I plan to, I am not seeing many doe's at all. I have seen at least 5 bucks for every doe that I have seen. I have no idea where they have went or if we have over hunted them or what is going on.

maya
11-22-2008, 07:16 AM
Sounds like you have a great spot npaden! How many cams have you got out? I've got some cam placements where I get mostly does and others bucks. Keep good tabs on your camera work. Have you tried to compute how many deer yoou may have on the property? Buck/doe raitio is very important but so is deer psm. ie keep them below carrying capasity. Even though you don't see a lot of does per buck does not mean you shouldn't shoot them if your overall numbers are high. It may cut down on your feed cost on those feeders and help the natural feed!

Maybe you've got some good neighbors that are doing some good doe hunting. Like USFWC said, I don't think you can make a wrong decision at this point.

Good luck the rest of the season.