Adequate doe harvest continues to be one of the most important tools a wildlife manager has at their disposal. While the 2020 season saw an increase in antlerless harvest, an overall downward trend has existed in antlerless harvest percentages over the past several years. To help balance harvest pressure, hunters are urged to take advantage of the state's region-leading bag limits and antlerless hunting opportunities. There are several benefits to additional antlerless harvest, and the most notable is a more even buck-to-doe ratio. Healthier deer, better hunting, and better antler development all begin with a more even buck-to-doe ratio.
In addition to increased opportunities for antlerless hunting, the Wildlife Deparment's Deer Management Program (DMAP) helps landowners intensively manage deer herds on private land. It is designed to give cooperators -- whether landowners, hunt clubs or lease operators -- extra assistance in managing deer. Under the program, cooperators set their own management goals ranging from producing maximum numbers of harvestable deer to producing trophy bucks. Because it is very difficult to manage deer and achieve realistic goals on small parcels of land, a minimum of 1,000 acres is required. Potential applicants with less than 1,000 acres may combine lands with adjoining landowners to meet the required minimum.
What are the benefits of an even buck to doe ratio?
- Additional nutrients for the herd. Having an even ratio increases the number of nutrients available for deer that remain. These additional resources not only mean healthier deer but more specifically better antler development.
- Condensed rut period. Bucks will spend less time traveling which conserves energy, thus reducing the demand of resources needed. This provides a better hunting experience.
- Even fawn drop. By having a condensed rut period fawns will drop all within the same time, which makes it difficult for predators to keep up with the numbers available.
- Less late-born fawns. Condensed rut period also helps to reduce the number of late-born fawns. Late born fawns, specifically buck fawns, are at high risk to suffer from developmental challenges which can take late-born fawn bucks three years to recover.
Big game biologist Dallas Barber talks about the importance of an even buck to doe ratio, and how hunters play a vital role in deer management.
Holiday Antlerless Season
Click the image below to find public areas that you can go participate in the Holiday Antlerless Season.
Want to learn how to process your own deer? Check out these videos on processing your own harvest.
Take your harvest to a local processor, check out this list of available processors, or even donate your harvest to a participating Hunters Against Hunter processor.
You can also sign-up for the Deer Share program which helps you share your harvest with others more easily.
Looking for a great recipe for the deer you harvest? Check out a list of some great venison recipes on our Wild Game Recipes page.