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· Say My Name.
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Generally, we don't shoot does in Michigan. Certainly, a lower proportion of does in our harvest mix than any surrounding state.

After adjusting out the button bucks from the antlerless harvest, we Michiganders took something like 180,000 - 190,000 does in the 2003 seasons. Out of 1,750,000 deer, that ain't many.
 

· Say My Name.
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The article probably should have differentiated between "northern" range (everything between Kentucky and St. Ignace), and "far northern" range, where winter kill is a dominant factor. The article was written for a national audience, for which, places like Ohio, Illinois, lower Michigan, etc. would be properly considered as northern habitat.

In many parts of Michigan, does are severely underharvested, and a harvest strategy along the lines suggested by Durkin/Dougherty is quite appropriate.

In the interest of completeness, the article could have better-described what they regarded as "northern habitat", and how strategies may differ in regions where winter kill and other factors contributing to mortality and stress are present.
 

· Say My Name.
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Originally posted by bwiltse
Let's not forget that it's usually better to over harvest than under harvest does. Deer are very prolific and populations recover quickly, whereas once your habitat is degraded it's usually a long drawn out process to get it back to where it should be.

...if you're going to err, then err on the side of protecting the habitat.
Good points, Wiltse. The nationally-respected deer biologists to which I've spoken are of the opinion that herd health, productivity, and sustainability is optimized at approximately 60% of carrying capacity. Once you get north of about 70%, you are asking for trouble, habitat will degrade, herd productivity begins to decline, body weights lessen, and social stress issues begin to arise. Allowing a prudent margin for habitat protection and herd health may dictate going to nearabouts 50% of carrying capacity, depending on site-specific factors (as per Grant Woods' "low hole in the bucket").

Local conditions are of key importance, and NorthJeff could not be more correct about how a wintertime census of free-ranging deer can be misleading.

In the ag areas of the southern lower, the area of which I am most familiar, a lot also depends on the harvest practices of those in your hunting neighborhood. If you're working with superb habitat, with abundant year-round food sources, cover, water, etc., and thereby the ability to support relatively higher densities (constrained by deer socialization and human factors), and the guys that hunt nearby are not harvesting good numbers of does, Dougherty/Durkin's advice applies in spades.

And it's not all about deer density numbers in relation to carrying capacity, either. Even if you've got your density at that slippery 60% of carrying capacity target, if your doe:buck ratio is lousy, an ambitious doe harvest still makes sense. As Wiltse noted, given room and quality habitat, deer numbers bounce back quickly.
 
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