Pitching the idea of harvesting antlerless deer is still a hard sell. In all the years of teaching hunter safety education even though as I counseled the participants that the course was not a “deer hunting” course, inevitably the discussions often turned to those subjects.
It was a natural course of events because first and foremost Mississippi hunters are deer hunters. So, admittedly I took advantage of the time to help all the deer hunters in the audience to understand the critical role of taking does as part of an overall deer management plan whether cooperating with the DMAP program or not.
“The whole idea of quality deer management is to achieve the ultimate herd balance between the antlerless deer and the bucks,” said William McKinley, Central Region Biologist and DMAP deer biology advisor. “Sure everyone wants to kill a buck or two, but taking out an appropriate number of does can be just as important or often more so.”
As a private landowner, lease holder or deer hunters in a membership hunting club, it is imperative to take out the annual DMAP recommended total harvest of does. Many clubs this past year were complaining of non-existent or very light observed rutting action. Likely this is due to too many does on the property that the available bucks can service during the rut. Thus with a lot of does there is little to no competition among bucks to breed. With a more balanced buck-doe ratio the intensity of the rut heightens.
Doe harvests also impact other factors on a hunting property. Chief among these for one thing, fewer deer eating the available natural or man-made groceries will be a positive benefit to the remaining wildlife. On habitat-critical properties this can be a big deal in terms of food resources and mineral enrichments for bucks to grow big racks.
Ideally over time as the principles of DMAP begin to take effect on a hunting property, all of these elements begin to balance out. In the interim though, follow all the DMAP biologist’s prescriptions.