Trophy Does

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 17, 2010

achieve this through management is to shift harvest pressure from bucks to does. Taking more does and fewer bucks raises the percentage of bucks in the population. It also allows more bucks a chance to grow big antlers.

For years, the Conservation Department has restricted the number of bucks that hunters could harvest. This year, new restrictions create a kind of "slot limit" for bucks. In 29 counties in the state, hunters aren't allowed to harvest bucks ranging from "spike" bucks with 3-inch or longer points to bucks without at least four points on one side of their rack.

Controlling doe numbers is key to keep-in a deer population in check. The new regulations should work, but it will help if hunters avoid shooting those small bucks.

SMALL BUCKS

Although legal, taking a small buck with nubs, or with points less than 3 inches long, doesn't contribute to our efforts to balance the deer herd. It just takes another buck out of the population.

Targeting bigger deer helps you avoid shooting young bucks. It's easy to tell whether a big deer is a buck or a doe, but buck and doe fawns are difficult to tell apart. Buck fawns do grow faster than doe fawns, but that just makes them more vulnerable to hunters, who usually will shoot the larger of a pair of fawns. Young buck fawns also are more aggressive and curious, making them easier targets.

Shooting the small buck also keeps you from filling your Antlerless Permit with a doe. Last year, more than 26,000 Firearms Antlerless Permits were filled with button bucks. This unintentional buck harvest slows attempts to balance the population by limiting the production of the deer's fawn factories.

FAWN FACTORIES

The older the doe, the more fawns it produces. One-year-old deer average only about 1/3 of a fawn per doe. The average jumps to 1 3/4; fawns per doe the following year, and then it steadily increases nearly 2 fawns per doe for deer by five years of age.

Mature deer also make better mothers. Studies show that the chances of fawn survival increase with the age of the mother. Lots of factors likely contribute to the improved odds. The larger the deer, the better able it is to defend against or intimidate predators. Older deer also may command more favorable home ranges and, through experience, have learned where to find food and

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