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Discussion Starter #1
I don't see the point of it. The only things I can think of are 1.) lower the demand for natural food supplies within the herd 2.) Automobile accidents
:confused:

Just seems like we would want more pregnancies to increase those nice buck numbers, then every few years have an open doe season.


Can someone enlighten me?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
other than crop reduction and people hitting them with their cars, why would we want a smaller herd?
 

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Here is an article I wrote for Woods-N-Water news this fall. It was in the October issue. It might help answer any questions you have about the importance of shooting does.

Michigan’s doe dilemma
By Matt Hadley​

I couldn’t help but be excited as I hit the road to check the local farm fields around my Upper Peninsula hunting area. It was late summer and with the temps slowly starting to drop the deer was out in full force. As I made my way up to the edge of the first field I couldn’t help but smile as I gazed out over the large number of deer feeding in the hay. I took out the spotting scope and quickly began to glass the field looking for bucks. However my excitement would soon fade to disappointment when the field of nearly 50 deer had only 4 racked bucks in it all of which appeared to be 1.5 year old deer. Maybe the bucks are just in another field I thought to myself as I moved onto the next spot. Unfortunately they weren’t. That drive took place nearly three years ago and I’m still looking for that magical field where all the bucks must be hiding. Sound familiar? Well it’s unfortunate but unbalance buck to doe ratios are a problem that affect almost every area of the state. From the grossly overpopulated deer herd of the Southern Lower Peninsula, to the abundant hay fields of the EUP and beyond.

The Problem

We deer hunters tend to point the finger in many different directions when trying to figure out who is to blame for our deer herds grossly unbalanced sex ratios. Many are quick to blame the DNR and NRC for not managing the deer herd properly. And while that is a very arguable topic it is we the hunters who must step up and take much of the blame. It wasn’t so long ago that shooting a doe was heavily frowned upon! Deer camps all around the state would do things like buy doe tags and burn them as a kind of camp tradition. Fortunately those views have slowly died over the years and thanks in large part to better education through organizations like the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) people have begun to realize that proper doe harvest is a critical part to having a healthy deer heard. However with a large part of our states deer hunters made up of the generation that grew up learning shooting does was a bad thing change comes slow and the myths about why it’s bad to shoot a doe live on.

The Myths

I have talked with countless “Old Timers” over the last few years about what it was like hunting in Michigan years ago when shooting a doe just wasn’t expectable to many hunters, and it truly amazes me at some of the reasons why these hunters didn’t shoot does. But what I find even harder to believe is that many hunters to this day still believe in these old views despite what modern day deer management and science proves.
.
Myth 1: Don’t shot the does because they are the mothers!

Myth Buster: Yeah and bucks are the dads but you don’t hear too many hunters saying don’t shoot them. Many people refrain from shooting does because they believe that if they do they are also killing next year’s fawns. However in areas where buck to doe ratios are way out of whack this just isn’t the case. Bucks can only bread so many does during the rut and when doe numbers far exceed those of bucks not every doe is able to be bread during the fall. Thus why not every doe has fawns in the spring. So by shooting a doe early in the fall what you end up doing is helping to create a more balance heard and allow a doe that would have otherwise not been bread do to over population to now be. So in reality you haven’t created any less fawns.

Myth 2: Don’t shoot the does because they are the ones that cause the rut!

Myth Buster: I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but for every 1 more doe there is then bucks in the heard the rut become less and less intense until you end up almost not even knowing if the rut happened because you never saw any evidence of it. Well we all know that the rut happens every year but for many of us we don’t get to enjoy it like those who are lucky enough to have a more balanced deer herd. When buck to doe ratios are where they should be such as 1 buck to every 1 or 2 does we as hunters get to experience a much more instance rut because competition for does is much greater and bucks have to work harder in order to breed does making them move more, leave more sign, and become much more visible. However when your buck to doe ratio begins to climb into the range of 1 buck to every 4 or 5 does or more your rutting activity greatly decreases because now your bucks no longer have the need to lay out sign and cover large areas in order to find does. There are enough that he can stick to a smaller area and have plenty of does to choose from. This not only leads to a large decrees in rut activity but population problems and a larger number of unbred does.

Myth 3: If we shoot the does we won’t see deer anymore!

Myth Buster: When doe harvest are done the smart way you’re unlikely to notice any major decrease in herd numbers. If done correctly harvesting the proper number of does will not only allow you to have healthier deer on the land you hunt but also bigger bucks. All while still maintaining a deer heard with enough deer to have enjoyable hunts. You tell me what you like better? Going out in the evening and watching 10 or more deer and not seeing any bucks. Or going out in the evening and watching 7 deer and having 2 or 3 of them be bucks. When young bucks are passed on and does are harvested in their place the heard numbers are not greatly affected but the sex ratios become much more balanced in turn making a healthier deer population.

The Solution

It seems simple enough. Shoot more does and you will begin to see an all around better deer herd and a more intense rut each fall. Truth is it’s as simple as it sounds! The fact of the mater is that harvesting does is an extremely vital part of managing our states deer herd. And doing it can be just as rewarding as shooting a buck. It doesn’t really matter what part of the season it’s done in. Some like to get it done early so that they know they are harvesting a doe which has not been bred and that they are helping to create a more intense rut. Others prefer to wait until the later parts of the season to shoot their doe. Harvesting does during the late bow and muzzleloader seasons can be a very rewording experience. With winter setting in the fear of tipping a buck off to your presence by shooting a doe before the rut is now gone and with doe groups beginning to form again you are often able to pick exactly which doe you want to harvest.

Conclusion

With the constant talk of disease and overpopulation the need for proper doe harvest is more important today then ever before. It doesn’t really mater what part of the season it’s done in. The important thing is that it gets done! Harvesting a doe not only puts some great meat in the freezer but it also helps the overall deer herd tremendously. So this fall step up to the plate and do your part to help manage our states deer herd for a brighter future. It can be done and with your help we will get there. One doe at a time!
 

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You need bucks to breed does. IMHO I believe there are alot of does that don't even get breeded in Michigan. Why not have a more 1:1 buck to doe ratio then a 1:4 when some of those does aren't even producing.

That's what my research has brought me to believe.

Looking forward to the good read above!
 

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Our buck to doe ratio is out of whack in many areas. The more does you shoot, the better the herd dynamics will be.

May I suggest you read a few books on whitetail biology!?

Here's a good article:

Antlerless Deer Management

By: Brian Murphy

In the previous issue of Quality Whitetails, two articles emphasized the benefits of aggressive antlerless deer harvest (see “A Rifle and a Plow,” and “Aggressive Antlerless Harvest”). The purpose of this article is to discuss in more detail the specifics of antlerless harvest and how to apply this information to your hunting area.

Before discussing specific aspects of antlerless harvest, it is necessary to define the term. In most states, an antlerless deer is defined as one without visible, hardened antler above the hairline during the hunting season. A few states classify spike bucks with less than a certain length of antlers as “antlerless.” For the purpose of this article, antlerless deer are defined as female deer of all ages and male deer less than one year old — commonly referred to as button bucks, buck fawns, or nubbin bucks.

Why?

The obvious first question regarding antlerless harvest is why. Much has been written and researched on this topic, and many of the key reasons are listed below.

1. To reduce deer density.

In many areas, whitetail populations are at or above the carrying capacity of the land, and herd reduction or stabilization is needed. This can only be achieved through the harvest of adult does — the reproductive segment of the herd. Ironically, one of the greatest obstacles to the acceptance of doe harvest by some hunters is the adage, “I won’t shoot a doe because it would be like killing three deer.” While on the surface this would be true — assuming the doe was mature (generally 2 1/2 years old or older) and carrying twin fawns — it demonstrates a lack of understanding of deer biology. Numerous studies have shown that as deer herds approach carrying capacity, reproductive success and fawn recruitment rates decline. In other words, fewer fawns are actually recruited into the pre-hunting season population than could be recruited from a smaller, but healthier herd.

2. To balance the sex ratio.

Distorted adult sex ratios are common under traditional management programs featuring heavy buck harvests and inadequate doe harvests. Given that fawns are born in approximately equal sex ratios (if not slightly favoring males), the only way to achieve and maintain a balanced adult sex ratio is through antlerless harvest. Since bucks have higher natural mortality rates due to fighting, post-rut stress, larger home ranges, and other factors, the sex ratio will eventually slightly favor does, even in unhunted populations. With the added hunting mortality on bucks, in most cases more does than bucks must be harvested annually to maintain a balanced population. This is especially true in the early stages of many QDM programs.

3. To make room for and improve the quality
of young bucks.

A goal of most QDM programs is the protection of young bucks. However, protecting a group of animals (i.e., yearling bucks) that has historically been harvested only compounds existing deer density problems — unless an adequate number of antlerless deer are harvested. Most bucks protected under QDM are 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 years old, and these bucks consume nearly 1 1/2 times as much forage as a doe of the same age. This should be considered when calculating doe-harvest needs.

4. To reduce the harvest pressure on young bucks
and provide additional venison.

Let’s face it, deer hunters like to harvest deer, especially the first one of the season. I suspect there is something deep inside hunters that becomes satisfied when the freezer is full of venison. Consequently, by harvesting a doe early in the season, this helps relieve the “pressure” on both the hunter and the young bucks in the area.

5. To increase reproductive success and fawn recruitment.

In areas where deer populations exceed the carrying capacity of the habitat, doe reproductive rates as well as fawn survival and recruitment rates suffer. In such areas, reducing herd density through antlerless harvests often results in increased herd health and, consequently, increased reproductive success. In other words, a smaller herd can produce more and healthier fawns with higher survival rates. This is why many moderate-density herds managed under QDM guidelines can sustain much higher annual antlerless harvest rates than high-density herds under traditional management.

6. To provide reproductive data.

Until someone can prove that bucks give birth to fawns, only pregnant does can provide valuable reproductive data. Such data typically includes evidence of lactation (“in milk”) and the presence of fetuses. Lactation data provides evidence that the doe produced one or more fawns from the previous year, while fetal information provides evidence of breeding during the year of harvest. Lactation data is especially useful on yearling does, because this provides evidence they bred as fawns — an indication of a healthy herd. In many parts of the whitetail’s range, late hunting seasons enable the collection of measurable fetuses from harvested does. Fetuses typically are not measurable until 40 days after conception. As such, fetuses from does bred in mid-November would not be measurable until late-December or early January. For detailed information on this topic, refer to the article by Joe Hamilton on page 44.

7. To reduce dispersal of young bucks.

Research suggests that active doe harvests reduce the average home range size of young bucks (five to 18 months old) and the percent of yearling bucks that disperse from their birth area. Both result in more bucks staying closer to home instead of dispersing the typical one- to five-mile range found in most studies. For more information on this topic, see the article by Shaw, Lancia, Conner, and Rosenberry on page 30.

8. To reduce negative impacts of white-tailed deer.

Active antlerless harvests also provide benefits to society. Increased antlerless harvests typically result in a lower overall deer population. Fewer deer results in fewer deer-vehicle collisions, reduced crop and ornamental damage, and fewer overall negative interactions with humans.

When?

The best time of the hunting season to harvest antlerless deer is another important consideration. This decision, at least as it applies to adult does, should be based on the health and survival of their orphaned fawns. Typically, a whitetail fawn is weanable between 60 to 90 days after birth. Most hunting seasons are set with this in mind. As such, the majority of fawns (except those born very late) are weanable by the beginning of the hunting season.

Given two studies decribed below, I would suggest harvesting antlerless deer early in the season, except in areas with extremely high predator populations (coyotes, bobcats and black bears) or in areas with extremely late breeding periods resulting in fawns being less than 60 days old at the beginning of hunting season. In most areas, fawns will exceed 40 pounds live weight by this age.

Benefits of Early Antlerless Harvests

1. To reduce the harvest of buck fawns.

One benefit of early antlerless harvest is the reduction of mistakenly harvested buck fawns. This is due to the drastic size difference between adult does and fawns early in the season. As the season progresses, fawns, especially buck fawns, begin resembling yearling does in body size and shape, making mistakes more likely. In addition, fawns are usually traveling with their mothers early in the season (versus being separated during the breeding season), which allows for a direct size comparison.

2. To increase nutrition available to other deer.

Harvesting does early also results in increased nutrition for the remaining animals. For example, since the average deer consumes around six pounds of forage per day, simply harvesting 10 does two months earlier than normal would result in the saving of 3,600 pounds of forage (10 does X 6 lbs/day X 60 days). That’s more than most one-acre food plots can produce during the same period. Importantly, removing deer early leaves forage during the critical stress period of late-winter through early spring.

3. To improve the sex ratio prior to the rut.

While impossible in some areas due to season timing, harvesting does before the rut provides numerous benefits. First, the adult sex ratio becomes more balanced resulting in a higher number of does breeding on their first estrous (heat) cycle. This results in a healthier and more consistent fawn crop. Fewer does during the breeding season also reduces energy expended by adult bucks. In other words, bucks don’t waste precious energy chasing and breeding does that will only be harvested later.

4. To increase competition for breeding.

Under traditional management programs with high deer densities and young buck age structures, nearly all bucks actively participate in breeding. This is not to infer that young bucks have poor genetics, because genetics don’t change after conception. However, it is Mother Nature’s way for competition to exist among rival adult bucks, which results in the dominant bucks doing the majority of the breeding. Consequently, early antlerless harvests improve the adult sex ratio prior to the rut, resulting in increased competition for breeding.

5. To ensure the antlerless harvest goal is achieved.

A final yet important benefit of early antlerless harvests is to ensure that the antlerless harvest goal for a property is achieved. All too often when hunters wait until late in the season to begin harvesting antlerless deer, they fail to meet their harvest goal. This is due to many factors. Like bucks, does react to hunting pressure by changing their travel patterns, especially during daylight. Even where does are not harvested early in the season, they can become quite difficult to harvest late in the season. Also, it often becomes difficult to get enough hunter participation late in the season. The rut is over, the weather is lousy, the holidays are approaching, and some hunters have a freezer full of venison from deer taken earlier in the season. To make matters worse, those who are actively harvesting antlerless deer often begin to panic as the season draws near and make poor harvest decisions. This generally results in a higher than normal percentage of button bucks and/or small yearling bucks in the harvest — both mistaken for does. Another concern in areas with very late seasons is the harvest of mature bucks that have already cast their antlers. This is especially common in years of poor nutrition (e.g., mast failures, food plot failures, etc.). The investment required to produce a mature buck is far too high to harvest them by mistake late in the season.

How Many?

The number of does that should be taken from a given property depends on numerous variables. It can vary from property to property and even from year to year on the same property. Some factors that influence antlerless harvest include: property size, shape and habitat quality, management goals, deer density, herd sex ratio, herd productivity, and management practices on adjacent properties. Given the complexity of this subject, it is highly recommended that you seek advice from a professional wildlife biologist familiar with your area. Within a few years, you can generally establish a baseline harvest level that can be adjusted as needed in relation to changes in habitat quality and/or seasonal conditions.

Throughout much of the whitetail’s range, deer densities range from 20 to 50 per square mile. In these areas, the harvest of one antlerless deer per 30 to 125 acres is generally required to maintain herds in a healthy condition. Within this range, most deer managers recommend a harvest rate of around one per 50 to 100 acres.

However, in highly productive areas or in the early stages of a QDM program, more aggressive harvests may be required. For example, in highly productive or highly overpopulated areas, a harvest as high as one antlerless deer per 10 acres may be required. In contrast, in low-density areas or extremely low-quality areas, a harvest of one per 150 to 200 acres, or possibly even no antlerless harvest, may be warranted. Again, seek advice from a wildlife biologist before implementing an antlerless harvest program.

Which Ones?

Which antlerless deer to harvest — fawns, yearlings, or adults — is another consideration. In general, I recommend the first one that offers a good harvest opportunity. This is because in many areas it is difficult to harvest enough antlerless deer, and every harvest opportunity wasted only complicates this situation. When multiple antlerless deer are present, I recommend harvesting the dominant, adult doe. One reason for harvesting adult does is that fewer buck fawns will be harvested by mistake due to the difference in body size. Another reason is because adult does are the most reproductive segment of the herd. In other words, harvesting adult does lowers the population faster than harvesting fawns and yearlings, which either don’t breed or produce fewer fawns. Fewer buck fawns in the harvest results in more bucks surviving to maturity.

A dominant doe is the leader of her family group and generally the oldest. They can be identified if there is sufficient time to watch interactions among members of her group. The dominant doe generally leads her group from bedding to feeding areas and also is more likely to display aggressive behaviors toward other members of her group at feeding areas.

Hopefully, this information will help clarify the why, when, how many, and which ones of the antlerless harvest dilemma.
 

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uptracker, I do agree
I am no biologist or even close but after really spending time reading and listening as much as possible then trying my darness to harvest more does my buck sighting's especially durning prerut were incredable. One positive aspeck I have witnessed is to see bucks fighting more often over does, rubs and scapes flurish. Our doe numbers unfortunetly grew again this season and i once again seen lazy bucks and unattended does with fawns during rut in big numbers again and I am sure some will not get breed:(. Not sure if i explained my thoughts well enough but it truly is something i think merits being given a chance in MI what do we have to lose that we have not already compaired to many other MIDwest states.
 

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both very good articles and for the first time ever i took a doe last week. it was just as exciting as getting a buck! I hope to get my first buck during ML, however, another doe may be in the future for sure!
 

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You should see the doe numbers we have now. I live as far east as you could on the Lake County side and we've had three years w/o doe permits except for this year which was limited. I never got one(my fault) I wish private land owners had more say on doe permits. I think any private land owner should be able to purchase a doe permit for their private land, not the county. You could take one with a bow but most of the deer are taken during rifle. I went deerless this year, saw about 50 does and 1 buck!
 

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Our buck to doe ratio is out of whack in many areas. The more does you shoot, the better the herd dynamics will be.

May I suggest you read a few books on whitetail biology!?

Here's a good article:

Antlerless Deer Management

By: Brian Murphy

In the previous issue of Quality Whitetails, two articles emphasized the benefits of aggressive antlerless deer harvest (see “A Rifle and a Plow,” and “Aggressive Antlerless Harvest”). The purpose of this article is to discuss in more detail the specifics of antlerless harvest and how to apply this information to your hunting area.

Before discussing specific aspects of antlerless harvest, it is necessary to define the term. In most states, an antlerless deer is defined as one without visible, hardened antler above the hairline during the hunting season. A few states classify spike bucks with less than a certain length of antlers as “antlerless.” For the purpose of this article, antlerless deer are defined as female deer of all ages and male deer less than one year old — commonly referred to as button bucks, buck fawns, or nubbin bucks.

Why?

The obvious first question regarding antlerless harvest is why. Much has been written and researched on this topic, and many of the key reasons are listed below.

1. To reduce deer density.

In many areas, whitetail populations are at or above the carrying capacity of the land, and herd reduction or stabilization is needed. This can only be achieved through the harvest of adult does — the reproductive segment of the herd. Ironically, one of the greatest obstacles to the acceptance of doe harvest by some hunters is the adage, “I won’t shoot a doe because it would be like killing three deer.” While on the surface this would be true — assuming the doe was mature (generally 2 1/2 years old or older) and carrying twin fawns — it demonstrates a lack of understanding of deer biology. Numerous studies have shown that as deer herds approach carrying capacity, reproductive success and fawn recruitment rates decline. In other words, fewer fawns are actually recruited into the pre-hunting season population than could be recruited from a smaller, but healthier herd.

2. To balance the sex ratio.

Distorted adult sex ratios are common under traditional management programs featuring heavy buck harvests and inadequate doe harvests. Given that fawns are born in approximately equal sex ratios (if not slightly favoring males), the only way to achieve and maintain a balanced adult sex ratio is through antlerless harvest. Since bucks have higher natural mortality rates due to fighting, post-rut stress, larger home ranges, and other factors, the sex ratio will eventually slightly favor does, even in unhunted populations. With the added hunting mortality on bucks, in most cases more does than bucks must be harvested annually to maintain a balanced population. This is especially true in the early stages of many QDM programs.

3. To make room for and improve the quality
of young bucks.


A goal of most QDM programs is the protection of young bucks. However, protecting a group of animals (i.e., yearling bucks) that has historically been harvested only compounds existing deer density problems — unless an adequate number of antlerless deer are harvested. Most bucks protected under QDM are 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 years old, and these bucks consume nearly 1 1/2 times as much forage as a doe of the same age. This should be considered when calculating doe-harvest needs.

4. To reduce the harvest pressure on young bucks
and provide additional venison.

Let’s face it, deer hunters like to harvest deer, especially the first one of the season. I suspect there is something deep inside hunters that becomes satisfied when the freezer is full of venison. Consequently, by harvesting a doe early in the season, this helps relieve the “pressure” on both the hunter and the young bucks in the area.

5. To increase reproductive success and fawn recruitment.

In areas where deer populations exceed the carrying capacity of the habitat, doe reproductive rates as well as fawn survival and recruitment rates suffer. In such areas, reducing herd density through antlerless harvests often results in increased herd health and, consequently, increased reproductive success. In other words, a smaller herd can produce more and healthier fawns with higher survival rates. This is why many moderate-density herds managed under QDM guidelines can sustain much higher annual antlerless harvest rates than high-density herds under traditional management.

6. To provide reproductive data.

Until someone can prove that bucks give birth to fawns, only pregnant does can provide valuable reproductive data. Such data typically includes evidence of lactation (“in milk”) and the presence of fetuses. Lactation data provides evidence that the doe produced one or more fawns from the previous year, while fetal information provides evidence of breeding during the year of harvest. Lactation data is especially useful on yearling does, because this provides evidence they bred as fawns — an indication of a healthy herd. In many parts of the whitetail’s range, late hunting seasons enable the collection of measurable fetuses from harvested does. Fetuses typically are not measurable until 40 days after conception. As such, fetuses from does bred in mid-November would not be measurable until late-December or early January. For detailed information on this topic, refer to the article by Joe Hamilton on page 44.

7. To reduce dispersal of young bucks.

Research suggests that active doe harvests reduce the average home range size of young bucks (five to 18 months old) and the percent of yearling bucks that disperse from their birth area. Both result in more bucks staying closer to home instead of dispersing the typical one- to five-mile range found in most studies. For more information on this topic, see the article by Shaw, Lancia, Conner, and Rosenberry on page 30.

8. To reduce negative impacts of white-tailed deer.

Active antlerless harvests also provide benefits to society. Increased antlerless harvests typically result in a lower overall deer population. Fewer deer results in fewer deer-vehicle collisions, reduced crop and ornamental damage, and fewer overall negative interactions with humans.

When?

The best time of the hunting season to harvest antlerless deer is another important consideration. This decision, at least as it applies to adult does, should be based on the health and survival of their orphaned fawns. Typically, a whitetail fawn is weanable between 60 to 90 days after birth. Most hunting seasons are set with this in mind. As such, the majority of fawns (except those born very late) are weanable by the beginning of the hunting season.

Given two studies decribed below, I would suggest harvesting antlerless deer early in the season, except in areas with extremely high predator populations (coyotes, bobcats and black bears) or in areas with extremely late breeding periods resulting in fawns being less than 60 days old at the beginning of hunting season. In most areas, fawns will exceed 40 pounds live weight by this age.

Benefits of Early Antlerless Harvests

1. To reduce the harvest of buck fawns.

One benefit of early antlerless harvest is the reduction of mistakenly harvested buck fawns. This is due to the drastic size difference between adult does and fawns early in the season. As the season progresses, fawns, especially buck fawns, begin resembling yearling does in body size and shape, making mistakes more likely. In addition, fawns are usually traveling with their mothers early in the season (versus being separated during the breeding season), which allows for a direct size comparison.

2. To increase nutrition available to other deer.

Harvesting does early also results in increased nutrition for the remaining animals. For example, since the average deer consumes around six pounds of forage per day, simply harvesting 10 does two months earlier than normal would result in the saving of 3,600 pounds of forage (10 does X 6 lbs/day X 60 days). That’s more than most one-acre food plots can produce during the same period. Importantly, removing deer early leaves forage during the critical stress period of late-winter through early spring.

3. To improve the sex ratio prior to the rut.

While impossible in some areas due to season timing, harvesting does before the rut provides numerous benefits. First, the adult sex ratio becomes more balanced resulting in a higher number of does breeding on their first estrous (heat) cycle. This results in a healthier and more consistent fawn crop. Fewer does during the breeding season also reduces energy expended by adult bucks. In other words, bucks don’t waste precious energy chasing and breeding does that will only be harvested later.

4. To increase competition for breeding.

Under traditional management programs with high deer densities and young buck age structures, nearly all bucks actively participate in breeding. This is not to infer that young bucks have poor genetics, because genetics don’t change after conception. However, it is Mother Nature’s way for competition to exist among rival adult bucks, which results in the dominant bucks doing the majority of the breeding. Consequently, early antlerless harvests improve the adult sex ratio prior to the rut, resulting in increased competition for breeding.

5. To ensure the antlerless harvest goal is achieved.

A final yet important benefit of early antlerless harvests is to ensure that the antlerless harvest goal for a property is achieved. All too often when hunters wait until late in the season to begin harvesting antlerless deer, they fail to meet their harvest goal. This is due to many factors. Like bucks, does react to hunting pressure by changing their travel patterns, especially during daylight. Even where does are not harvested early in the season, they can become quite difficult to harvest late in the season. Also, it often becomes difficult to get enough hunter participation late in the season. The rut is over, the weather is lousy, the holidays are approaching, and some hunters have a freezer full of venison from deer taken earlier in the season. To make matters worse, those who are actively harvesting antlerless deer often begin to panic as the season draws near and make poor harvest decisions. This generally results in a higher than normal percentage of button bucks and/or small yearling bucks in the harvest — both mistaken for does. Another concern in areas with very late seasons is the harvest of mature bucks that have already cast their antlers. This is especially common in years of poor nutrition (e.g., mast failures, food plot failures, etc.). The investment required to produce a mature buck is far too high to harvest them by mistake late in the season.

How Many?

The number of does that should be taken from a given property depends on numerous variables. It can vary from property to property and even from year to year on the same property. Some factors that influence antlerless harvest include: property size, shape and habitat quality, management goals, deer density, herd sex ratio, herd productivity, and management practices on adjacent properties. Given the complexity of this subject, it is highly recommended that you seek advice from a professional wildlife biologist familiar with your area. Within a few years, you can generally establish a baseline harvest level that can be adjusted as needed in relation to changes in habitat quality and/or seasonal conditions.

Throughout much of the whitetail’s range, deer densities range from 20 to 50 per square mile. In these areas, the harvest of one antlerless deer per 30 to 125 acres is generally required to maintain herds in a healthy condition. Within this range, most deer managers recommend a harvest rate of around one per 50 to 100 acres.

However, in highly productive areas or in the early stages of a QDM program, more aggressive harvests may be required. For example, in highly productive or highly overpopulated areas, a harvest as high as one antlerless deer per 10 acres may be required. In contrast, in low-density areas or extremely low-quality areas, a harvest of one per 150 to 200 acres, or possibly even no antlerless harvest, may be warranted. Again, seek advice from a wildlife biologist before implementing an antlerless harvest program.

Which Ones?

Which antlerless deer to harvest — fawns, yearlings, or adults — is another consideration. In general, I recommend the first one that offers a good harvest opportunity. This is because in many areas it is difficult to harvest enough antlerless deer, and every harvest opportunity wasted only complicates this situation. When multiple antlerless deer are present, I recommend harvesting the dominant, adult doe. One reason for harvesting adult does is that fewer buck fawns will be harvested by mistake due to the difference in body size. Another reason is because adult does are the most reproductive segment of the herd. In other words, harvesting adult does lowers the population faster than harvesting fawns and yearlings, which either don’t breed or produce fewer fawns. Fewer buck fawns in the harvest results in more bucks surviving to maturity.

A dominant doe is the leader of her family group and generally the oldest. They can be identified if there is sufficient time to watch interactions among members of her group. The dominant doe generally leads her group from bedding to feeding areas and also is more likely to display aggressive behaviors toward other members of her group at feeding areas.

Hopefully, this information will help clarify the why, when, how many, and which ones of the antlerless harvest dilemma.
While I agree with many of the reasons like, Increasing the rutting activity and providing a more stable buck to doe ratio I disagree with most of it. Everyone in QDM says it is for the HEALTH of the herd etc. etc.

I find things like this funny "This is especially common in years of poor nutrition (e.g., mast failures, food plot failures, etc.). The investment required to produce a mature buck is far too high to harvest them by mistake late in the season.". It is not o.k. to harvest a nice old mature buck because his headgear fell off before you shot him. TELL ME, what exactly is difference other than he does not have a rack, he's still a mature buck? QDM, no IT'S NOT ABOUT THE ANTLERS!!!

Also, why is it o.k. for the unrestricted slaughter of does without any regard for age structure and why must we slaughter inordinate numbers of does to benefit the bucks genetic rack size? Does a buck fawn not get half it's genetics from the doe, why not give the 1.5 does a chance and only harvest MATURE does?

As everyone probably knows I have nothing against harvesting does, I harvest whatever deer is present. I just keep reading (No, I don't know why I keep reading) all these threads about let them grow and harvest does, etc. etc. It is BEYOND clear to me that the only reason for that is rack size which not everyone cares as much about. Again, I agree with harvesting does but more for the benefit of the DEER numbers and health and not for the antlers on their heads.
 

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I think you missed a part Daren. It should read "Another concern in areas with very late seasons is the harvest of mature bucks that have already cast their antlers. This is especially common in years of poor nutrition (e.g., mast failures, food plot failures, etc.). The investment required to produce a mature buck is far too high to harvest them by mistake late in the season."

....Meaning: You have to be careful when you are harvesting does in the late season. Some bucks have shed their head gear and you don't want your antlerless harvest to turn out to have a set of testicles when you begin to field dress your "antlerless" deer. Just like being careful not to shoot a button buck in the early season. If you start harvesting more bucks than does, you'll be right back where you started.

Here's a good quote from the MI DNR website:


"In the late 1980s, the Department of Natural Resources reaffirmed its goal of 1.3 million deer in the fall herd (which was biologically the same as the 1971 goal of 1 million deer in the spring herd). However, a new dimension was added by specifying that 35 percent of this fall herd should ideally be antlered bucks. Increased hunting of antlerless deer was encouraged by quota and area to thin adult doe herds. In 1989' the Hunter's Choice license was changed to a bonus Antlerless-only license. The number of antlerless deer hunting licenses was increased from the tens of thousands issued annually in the 1970s to a peak of 322,890 in 1990. The herd responded as was intended-there were 20 percent fewer deer in fall 1993 as there were in 1989.
The heightened opportunity to take antlerless deer reduced the hunting pressure exclusively devoted to bucks. Thinning the herd also increased fawn survival so that more 1½-year-old bucks were recruited into the fall herd in the 1990s, compared to the 1960s. In 1991, the bag limit for bucks was reduced from four (two in archery plus two in firearm or muzzleloading seasons) to two bucks in all seasons combined. Many hunters thought that the buck harvest should be restricted even more, and proposals were developed to drop the second buck license or to make it illegal to tag a spikehorn with a buck license. There was much discussion about application of "quality deer management" from the Southeastern states to Michigan.
Continued bucks-only hunting to rebuild herds may complicate the problem by placing all of the hunting pressure on antlered deer. That will decrease the buck-to-doe ratio and eventually return us to the situation where we started in the mid-1980s. Now, we should evaluate regulations that will allow the careful taking of specified numbers of antlerless deer in areas with smaller herds. We need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of regulations to reduce buck harvest in ways that are acceptable to hunters and landowners."
 

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You should see the doe numbers we have now. I live as far east as you could on the Lake County side and we've had three years w/o doe permits except for this year which was limited. I never got one(my fault) I wish private land owners had more say on doe permits. I think any private land owner should be able to purchase a doe permit for their private land, not the county. You could take one with a bow but most of the deer are taken during rifle. I went deerless this year, saw about 50 does and 1 buck!
Private land owners can get DMAP permits. They are used in regular season and are issued by the DNR biologists if you show what your herd dynamic should be. Say you want to bring your buck to do ratio in better aspect. You can contact the biologist and say I would like to take 6 does from my property. They will evaluate your reasoning and issure the permits if they agree with you. Its not as hard as you might think. Just write the letter explaining the poor herd balance.
 

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While I agree with many of the reasons like, Increasing the rutting activity and providing a more stable buck to doe ratio I disagree with most of it. Everyone in QDM says it is for the HEALTH of the herd etc. etc.

I find things like this funny "This is especially common in years of poor nutrition (e.g., mast failures, food plot failures, etc.). The investment required to produce a mature buck is far too high to harvest them by mistake late in the season.". It is not o.k. to harvest a nice old mature buck because his headgear fell off before you shot him. TELL ME, what exactly is difference other than he does not have a rack, he's still a mature buck? QDM, no IT'S NOT ABOUT THE ANTLERS!!!

Also, why is it o.k. for the unrestricted slaughter of does without any regard for age structure and why must we slaughter inordinate numbers of does to benefit the bucks genetic rack size? Does a buck fawn not get half it's genetics from the doe, why not give the 1.5 does a chance and only harvest MATURE does?

As everyone probably knows I have nothing against harvesting does, I harvest whatever deer is present. I just keep reading (No, I don't know why I keep reading) all these threads about let them grow and harvest does, etc. etc. It is BEYOND clear to me that the only reason for that is rack size which not everyone cares as much about. Again, I agree with harvesting does but more for the benefit of the DEER numbers and health and not for the antlers on their heads.
The shooting of does is not to benifit the "bucks genetic rack size" it is to help lower the population of the deer herd to balance the buck to doe ratio. To help improve a bucks "rack size" you first can't shoot them before they are mature and second make sure they are getting the nutrition they need to be healthy. There is a point when practicing QDM where you might find that it is time to stop taking does or to cut back on the numbers killed or to target an age class of does. Sometimes Qdm requires hunters/land managers to take doe fawns. This is why state wide regulations do not work for the whole state. DMU almost need to be broke down and managed differently lets say for example DMU 059 gets broke up into 4 sections that we call DMU 059-1, DMU 059-2, etc. Then each section is managed for the needs of that section. This will probably never happen here in Mi. but to properly manage the states deer herd it needs to be done on a smaller scale. Better hunting will be seen by all hunters if the buck to doe ratio is more stable. You may not go out and see 30 does in your food plot but you might see 10 does and 5 bucks. You might not see as many deer but big buck sightings might be more frequent. You may not be able to kill as many deer each year but your hunts will be more quality hunts.
 

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These threads get kind of depressing. No matter how much scientifc evidence you can show some guys, they will never learn- and they will continue to pound 18 month old baby bucks cause its more 'manly'.
 
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