The Importance of Taking Does

By Paul Rackley, Associate Online Shooting Editor

While so many of us dream of taking a trophy-class buck, Quality Deer Management practices recommend that hunters take at least as many does as bucks—hunters really should take more does than bucks—to prevent overuse of food resources.

When a property becomes overrun with deer, food sources can be depleted through overbrowsing, which causes issues with all deer in the area including the bucks everyone wants to take. This leads to underweight deer and small racks, and can eventually lead to diseases that can devastate the entire herd for years.

Taking does is especially important in areas with limited hunting, such as parks and suburban areas. This past year in Fairfax County, Va., certain county parks were opened for deer hunting and the local bowhunting group was begging for hunters to sign up. It seems that Fairfax County is overrun with deer because of limited hunting opportunities and an abundance of misconceptions about deer and deer hunting. While I didn’t sign up for the park hunts, I did my part by taking four deer (all does) off of private property in Fairfax County. The number of deer I saw while sitting in my stand, which was within sight of the landowner’s back door, was staggering. I took every deer that gave me a shot providing meat for my family, as well as some people in my office.

Of course my favorite reason for taking does is that they taste better. Bucks are often running around and fighting, which doesn’t improve the flavor of the meat. I prefer to fill my freezer with doe meat before scouring the woods for a buck, which will be turned in sausage and ground anyway. And since I’m pretty picky, I’ve taken way more does than bucks in my 25 years of hunting.

So if you’re looking for hunting opportunities for the upcoming season and don’t mind shooting does, be sure to check out the regulations for suburban hunting in your area. You can fill the freezer, make some new friends, extend your season and help to ensure the health of the herd.

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