Late Season Doe Hunting

Posted by: PJ Reilly on Dec 10, 2012
Page 1 of 3

It’s the late season. The rut is over across most of North America. The deer are moving back to feeding patterns. Hopefully your buck tag already has been punched. There’s still plenty of time left in the season, though. And it’s more fun sitting in a tree stand than doing chores around the house any day of the week. Plus, the big void is coming – that long gap between the end of the current archery deer season and the start of the next one. If you want to bowhunt, now’s the time to do it. That means it’s doe time!

I don’t know about you, but as long as I’ve got an open buck tag, I’m not going to shoot a doe. If one comes into bow range, that deer could be just the bait I need to lure in a buck. So unless I tag my buck early, I’m basically always looking at filling doe tags in the late season. And that’s just fine by me. It’s cold, which means bugs and meat spoilage are not issues of concern. Does tend to gather in large groups on the available food sources in the late season, so they can be easy to pattern and, therefore, easy to hunt. And I can confine my hunting to afternoons, which means no early-morning alarms. Does it get any better?

Why Kill Does?

If you’re managing a property for deer, odds are you have an annual harvest goal that you have to meet to keep your buck-to-doe ratio down and to make sure the herd using your land doesn’t exceed its carrying capacity. When the latter occurs, antler growth can be stunted. Some friends and I were called on by a farmer several years ago to get the deer herd on his property under control so he could make money on his crops. Since the property hadn’t been hunted in decades, there were an incredible number of deer on it.

The first couple of years we hunted the farm, we saw plenty of bucks, but no good ones. Even the mature bucks we shot and got photos of had unimpressive racks. They also had fairly small bodies. After focusing on killing does for about three years however, we started seeing and killing solid 140-class bucks. And the body weights increased. The first three years, we didn’t kill a buck weighing over 200 pounds. Afterward, we regularly killed 200-pounders.


They may not carry the antlers we all dream about, but don't underestimate the importance of harvesting does in your hunting area. Often times, doing so can actually improve the quality of bucks on your property.

Different properties can sustain different numbers of deer, depending on the available food sources. Once you know what your land can hold, you can manage your herd accordingly. And to do that, you’ve got to kill does. Let’s say you hunt public ground and/or private property that you can’t manipulate for deer management. Well, for you taking a doe is more about collecting venison than managing a herd. Maybe the buck you shot filled your need for steaks, chops and burger. Take a doe to load up on bologna, jerky and other tasty meat treats.

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PJ Reilly

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4 Comments on "Late Season Doe Hunting"

Re: Late Season Doe Hunting #
Nothing like meat for the freezer!!
Posted by Mike on 12/10/2012 3:59:19 PM
Re: Late Season Doe Hunting #
I agree with this article 100%. Come the 26(dec) ill be joining some family friends to put on drives to thin out the herd. IF ITS BROWN, ITS DOWN!!!!!!!!!
Posted by Cody Lyons on 12/12/2012 7:55:31 AM
Re: Late Season Doe Hunting #
I couldn't agree more - late season is a great time to practice some herd management by taking does.
Posted by Dan @ISOwhitetails on 12/29/2012 1:40:19 PM
Re: Late Season Doe Hunting #
Especially withe new crossbow law that was made for Illinois. Its a great time to try and fill some doe tags in the late season with the crossbow.
Posted by Brandon on 12/29/2012 8:27:00 PM

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