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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is our situation. Like most areas of michigan, our property has a pretty imbalanced herd when it comes to doe/buck ratio. Early in the season is not too bad (maybe 3 to 1), but as the season progresses and our food plots become the best food around it becomes really bad. By muzzleloader last year we where seeing 65 antlerless in a day and no antlered bucks. After seeing this last year, we started planning some major population control.

Now, this summer we have identified 3 mature (3.5+) bucks using our property but they are already about 90% nocturnal. I know this is only going to get worse when the pressure starts and I feel our only opportunity to take one is going to be during the rut. My fear is that if we shoot our does early in the season the bucks will move to surrounding areas in search of them during the rut. So would you wait until after the rut and then shoot as many does as possible, or start the slaughter with the early season as we had originally planned?
 

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In the specific circumstance that you mentioned, where the goal is to tag one or two of these older bucks, the risk of shooting does early is the increased human activity and scent that you're going to be introducing to your property. If your primary goal is harvest one or two of these bucks then you'd want to keep your property as unpressured as possible up until the point where you feel you'll have the greatest likelihood of tagging one of them.

As an aside, recent research has disproven the theory that bucks will relocate to where the most does are. Bucks certainly do expand their ranges to some extent during the pre rut and rut when they're on the prowl, but the idea that they'll simply vacate an area because the doe population is low and relocate to a different area where there is a higher doe population has been thoroughly disproven. It's one of the many old wives tales that makes sense to the thought process of hunters but that doesn't jive with what deer actually do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What about the theory that lower doe numbers will cause more chasing and bucks to move about more because they'll have to look harder for does? Could it improve our hunting by taking out the does early?
 

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What about the theory that lower doe numbers will cause more chasing and bucks to move about more because they'll have to look harder for does? Could it improve our hunting by taking out the does early?
No doubt that tighter ratios will increase competition amongst bucks and increase the visibility of bucks during the day once you get to early November. It could improve your mature buck hunting by taking out the does early, or it could backfire on you. Too many variables to know for certain.

One of the biggest variables is hunting pressure, both on your property and on neighboring properties. All else being equal, there's a huge advantage in stepping foot on November 1st onto an unpressured property that hasn't had any human presence for a month or two. How pressured your property is will be determined by not only what you do but what your neighbors do, especially in terms of whether they hunt stands that are right on your border, etc.

Another biggie is crop harvest patterns in the immediate area. Huge difference in what your opportunities will look like if all of the corn in the section has been combined, compared to if farmers are running late and most of the corn's still standing.

I'll tell you how we do things, which is not in any way to suggest that it's the best way, just trying to give you an example. We're working with 400 acres - 330 contiguous and 70 a half mile down the road.

The deer population in the area is very high, so we begin by applying for DMAP tags for the properties. We typically get approved for 20 or so and will usually fill around half of them by the time it's all said and done.

For the September antlerless hunt we're going to do our level best to take at least 5 does. In most cases "we" is actually just me, so time will tell if I'm able to pull that off. For those hunts I'll be utilizing areas of the farms that are on the fringes. Whenever we shoot does we use the high shoulder brachial plexus shot which drops them in their tracks. Everything done in the September hunt will be done with the goal of being low impact.

Then, during the youth weekend at the end of September, we put the kids and their parents in the absolute best and most prime spots. At this point it looks like we'll have five parent/child teams that are afield on Saturday of the youth hunt, and a couple of them may be there on Sunday as well.

Once the youth hunt is over there then is no human activity of any kind on these farms (unless it's for harvesting crops) until November 1st. At that time we'll begin to hunt a circuit of stands which were set up in the spring. If we do any deer hunting in October it's on other properties that we don't have exclusive access to, or it's on my lease in Ohio where my purpose is to take kids out hunting and where I don't attempt to manage it in the same way for older bucks.

Whatever doe harvest is still needed will then begin again during firearm season, where hopefully some of the kids or guests will have opportunities tag some does, and then I come in and take care of the rest of the doe harvest once muzzleloader/late firearm season comes along.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thanks for the advise NS. We want to do our part in taking does, but definetly want to get one of those bucks this year. We kind of had the same idea as you do. Hunting our hay fields for the early doe season (hopefully take 4 does) and not going anywhere near the woods or bedding areas. Then hunting opening weekend of bow, then taking the next few weeks off to do some bird hunting. Hopefully all goes well and we can catch a buck on its feet at the start of the rut.
 

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Thanks for the advise NS. We want to do our part in taking does, but definetly want to get one of those bucks this year. We kind of had the same idea as you do. Hunting our hay fields for the early doe season (hopefully take 4 does) and not going anywhere near the woods or bedding areas. Then hunting opening weekend of bow, then taking the next few weeks off to do some bird hunting. Hopefully all goes well and we can catch a buck on its feet at the start of the rut.
Hope you get a couple of those big guys:).
 

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We tend to pattern the big bucks during the previous year or winter and then hunt them during prime rut like the last week of Oct and 1st week of Nov.

I agree pressure is the thing to watch out for, but I assume like most areas of MI the surrounding land receives some pressure too, so it might be that making your area less pressured than the surrounding area not eliminating pressure completely is all it takes to get a shot at one (hopefully that makes sense:cool:).

Or to restate it, we hunt and walk our woods pretty much at will, but less than the surrounding properties owners do, and avoid walking or pressuring the thick swamp sections, so that we have the most attractive and underpressured land in the area to the big bucks.
 

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Looks like you are between the proverbial rock and the hard place.
65 doe in your fields at one time is most likely an indication that your area is way over population goal. If so, he best thing to do for the deer herd is take out 30 to 40 of those doe (even that may not be enough), and if you happen to see a buck consider it a blessing. In my opinion 3 - 4 doe from this situation will only add to the overpopulation problem. If everyone keeps up the trend of under harvest of doe in overpopulated areas you may one day see herd sterilization and sharp shooters on private property.
<----<<<
 

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Here is our situation. Like most areas of michigan, our property has a pretty imbalanced herd when it comes to doe/buck ratio. Early in the season is not too bad (maybe 3 to 1), but as the season progresses and our food plots become the best food around it becomes really bad. By muzzleloader last year we where seeing 65 antlerless in a day and no antlered bucks. After seeing this last year, we started planning some major population control.

?
I would have to believe you are seeing that many does late in the season for two reasons. The first being somewhat light pressure, but the biggest being you probably have a good bedding area with thermal cover. If it's the second you can harvest all the does you can, but untill everyone in the neighborhood is on the same page, you might as well get use to those extra's as they will find the best bedding area for early winter. First week of the season if the weathers right always finds me in an funnel from a bedding area that has a white oak in it. :) The closer that tree is to the bedding area, the better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Joe,
I should have been a little clearer. It is not 65 does in a field at once. It was 65 does in a day (morning and evening sits combined) by 4 hunters. I would guess the actually number of different does using the property at that time to be 20-30 (still too many though). This was also only the case late in the season. Starting around the end of november deer began flocking to our brassicas. Earlier in the season we would rarely see more then 20 deer in a day between the 4 of us. Some sits we didn't even see a deer. A 4 doe goal was only for the september antlerless season. Our actual season goal is 10 minimum but will hopefully be much higher.
 

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I am all in with the idea of taking as many does as possible... Last year I passed alot of bucks and harvested 2 does(myself), including gunfun we harvested 5 anterless deer last year. I will admit with the amount of good bucks on our property alot of us were hesitant to pull the trigger (archery or smokepole) early in the season because we didnt want to give up our position. When you have 10 deer less than 40 yds. away @ 3:00 in the afternoon its tough. This year all four of us sat down to our preseason meeting and talked harvest goals... Like gunfun said we want to take 4 does in the early season and 10 total... Everyone dreams of shooting the big buck!!! US INCLUDED. I will attest to gunfun, I sat over our plots last year in Dec. and witnessed multiple doe groups move through. Buckhunt2117 and I counted at least 60 different sightings in one day. Prolly some were the same deer. I also believe to help the buck population on our property we need to shoot does with BB fawns..This year I will harvest every doe that has a BB fawn with it...
 

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You guys crack me up with all your worring about should I stay off my property so I dont scare the deer away. I am here to tell you that deer do not scare away while they may become a little more nocturnal they are not going to leave your property by you shooting a few does or hunting during the early season. I am running dogs and cutting wood as well as relatives riding quads all the way up to gun season and guess what the deer are still there and I will be filling my tags on the 15th of nov.:lol::lol:
 

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You guys crack me up with all your worring about should I stay off my property so I dont scare the deer away. I am here to tell you that deer do not scare away while they may become a little more nocturnal they are not going to leave your property by you shooting a few does or hunting during the early season. I am running dogs and cutting wood as well as relatives riding quads all the way up to gun season and guess what the deer are still there and I will be filling my tags on the 15th of nov.:lol::lol:
Thanks for enlightening us. Since we're talking about how to bag bucks during archery season that are 3.5 or older, maybe you can inspire us further by posting some pictures of all the 3.5 year old bucks that you've tagged during archery system by utilizing your peak activity strategy;)?
 

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Thanks for enlightening us. Since we're talking about how to bag bucks during archery season that are 3.5 or older, maybe you can inspire us further by posting some pictures of all the 3.5 year old bucks that you've tagged during archery system by utilizing your peak activity strategy;)?
<in my best Ronald Reagan voice>
Weeeeeell, there you go again, trying to confuse a guy with facts.:lol:

Big T
 
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