Doe Management: When and What Should You Shoot?

Posted by Jay Everett on

When archery seasons kick off each year, many bowhunters head to the stand with a green light to shoot the first doe that walks up. But is the early season the best time to shoot does on your property? And what doe is the best doe to shoot for your management goals?

In the video below, Brian Murphy sheds some light on doe management, when to shoot does, and what doe is the best to shoot.

Check out the video here:

Reducing Deer Density

For density control, Murphy recommends shooting does as early as possible in the season.

“Shoot them early to get your numbers under control,” says Murphy. “We tend to make too many excuses the later into the season we get for not shooting does. The rut comes on, or we’re hunting less, and we just get lazy in the late season. If reduction of deer density is your goal, shoot does right from the start in the early season.”

The Barren Doe Myth

It’s not uncommon to hear a hunter say, “I’m gonna wait and shoot an old barren doe.” However, Murphy says that rarely do does grow “old and barren.” “In most cases, does will continue to produce offspring into their older years,” says Murphy. “We’ve had does in our research facilities produce twin fawns at the age of 12, 13, 14 and 15 years of age.” 

What's the Best Doe to Shoot?

If your goals are minimal numbers reduction, then you might consider shooting a young doe. A young doe ensures that your numbers are 1 for 1. Whereas when shooting a mature doe that typically drops twin fawns each season, in theory, you’re taking out as many as 3 deer for the year – thus placing a greater impact in overall herd numbers.

The only problem with shooting young does is that button bucks often get caught up in the mix if not properly identified. 

What about you? What are your doe management goals this year? How many does will you shoot on the properties you hunt?

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