Rethinking Doe Harvest— Is the pendulum swinging?
might as well confess this up front: I like shooting does. For starters, my family eats venison. Lots of it. Second, I believe shooting antlerless deer — especially with my bow — keeps me sharp for those too-rare opportunities when a mature buck wanders into my wheelhouse. Perhaps most importantly, I respect does. Some of the sharpest survivalists I’ve hunted weren’t toting antlers. I count every one as a trophy and cherish the harvest.
Finally, there’s this: I take my job as a deer manager seriously. Hunters sell this idea to the non-hunting public all the time. Not everyone believes us, especially when we pass multiple opportunities to shoot does in our quest for a nice buck. And I know there have been seasons when I’ve put off shooting does until my buck tag was punched, and then failed miserably when I finally got serious. I try not to fall into that trap anymore. Given that background, I went into last fall’s hunt with an odd attitude. I was not going to kill a doe on any farm in my immediate area. No matter how empty my freezer. Regardless of the size of the doe or the proximity of the shot. And my reason was as simple as it was difficult to accept; deer numbers were down in my neighborhood, and they’d been that way for several years. I’m no biologist, but I live where I hunt. I can — and do — keep an eye out for deer on a near-constant basis year-round. I run trail cameras, I plant and maintain food plots, and I scout and observe deer constant-
By Scott Bestul Photos by Brad Herndon
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 20, No. 1