Trophy Does

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 17, 2010

popular, hunters often shot a doe for camp meat. The prime fare provided by the doe fueled them for hunting "trophy" bucks.

Venison from breeding bucks is almost certainly going to be tougher than doe meat. At the very time when does are fattening themselves for winter, bucks are running themselves ragged, chasing does and fighting other bucks. During the rut, a buck's food consumption drops about 50 percent. In fact, breeding bucks can lose 25 percent of their body weight during fall.

During a taste study in Texas, most of the participants favored venison from does over venison from bucks. After mining those surveyed for more information, the researchers concluded that venison from does had less "flavor intensity."

That's a researcher's way of saying it isn't as "gamey."

You can mask tough, strong-tasting venison with marinades and spices, or you can have it made into sausage or jerky. These specialty meats taste good, but you will have to pay a premium for them, and you will be missing out on the sweet, delicate flavor of meat from a fat doe. For many hunters, venison for the family table is the primary incentive for hunting.


Years ago, only bucks were fair game. Hunters grew up believing that good conservation demanded that does be left for "seed" to build up the population. Hunting regulations and the belief of hunters that shooting does was wrong helped create the great deer hunting we have today.

Times have changed. We now have a healthy deer population in Missouri, and good conservation requires maintaining it at a sustainable level. This requires a change in both regulations and hunter attitudes.

Taking does need no longer be taboo. In fact, the Conservation Department is encouraging hunters to take more does and leave the bucks to "seed" a more balanced population. From a conservation standpoint, the big does that hunters bring into check stations are the best trophies of all.


Mature does seldom travel alone. Deer society is matriarchal, with the dominant doe in charge.

When entering a field or opening, the older doe often leads the group into a field or opening. It is also usually the first in a file of deer moving along a trail.

Watch closely for subtle movement. Mature does tend to sneak away from potential danger rather than run away from it.

Make sure you have a killing shot. Although doe venison is generally better than buck venison, the gaminess of the meat increases if the animal runs long distances after being hit.

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