Author’s note: Todd Carter of Oldham County, Kentucky manages about 7,500 acres for wildlife and has one 800-acre farm he manages intensively. He’s been a PSE pro and also on the Mossy Oak Pro Staff.
We manage our property for all types of wildlife. We have plenty of food and cover and very little hunting pressure. On the 800 acres, we have about 80 does and manage them as intensively as we do our bucks. We know we have some does that consistently produce buck fawn twins. We have others that are producing three buck fawns per year. You can’t guarantee that a doe will produce just buck fawns or just doe fawns. But if you keep up with your does and watch the types of fawns they drop, you’ll see some have a tendency to produce bucks. You’ll also see some does consistently produce two or three fawns.
For our management programs, these does are just as important as the older age class bucks on the land. The top-producing does are on the “Do Not Hit” list. We only take the does that are older and have stopped having fawns, or the does that generally produce only one fawn. Most biologists recommend you try to carry two does for each buck you have on the property, but I prefer to have four does for every buck.
I go against accepted wisdom on deer management because the worst thing you can do is grow a buck up to trophy size and then have him be harvested by one of your neighbors. If there are more does that are ready to breed on an adjacent property, your bucks will leave and go where the ladies are. I’ve found if I have four does for every buck, I can keep more of the big bucks on our property, even during the rut.
I’m often asked how I’m able to manage my does and identify the ones that are dropping the most buck fawns. The answer is quite simple. Does have a home range, just like bucks do. If you photograph and observe your does after deer season ends when they are dropping fawns, as the fawns mature, you can keep up with which does are the most productive in the herd. I want to watch them through at least one or two breeding seasons and be able to identify each of the does on the property.
I live on the farm I manage, and one of those groups of does comes and feeds at my house. I can watch those does interact and can record their personalities. For instance, I’ve been observing one doe for the last three years, and I know for certain that she’s produced three buck fawns. This doe is five to six years old, stays within 100 acres and is definitely off-limits for harvest. In the winter, I get camera pictures of her in the Mossy Oak BioLogic Winter Bulbs & Sugar Beets plots. She follows the food.
I’ve taken 15 does with my PSE Evo in the last year. One of the reasons I like to hunt does with my PSE bow is the arrow doesn’t make any noise. Guns going off and hunters moving around put pressure on the deer herd and can cause dispersal of your trophy bucks. So, we prefer to bowhunt on this 800 acres. The hunters can go right to the stand we’ve put up on the day we want to harvest that trophy buck. When they take that trophy buck with a bow, there’s no noise to spook all the other deer on the property. We can load up the buck and the hunter and get out of the woods without spooking the other bucks. It’s not to your advantage to do an intensive management program to produce trophy bucks and then put so much hunting pressure on those bucks that you run them off your property.
For more information on hunting deer, get John E. Phillips’ new eBook “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros.” You can go to http://www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.
Images courtesy John Phillips