Whitetail Management: Can You Have Too Many Deer?

Does it make sense to reduce the doe numbers on your property? One Midwest land manager says “no.”

Whitetail Management: Can You Have Too Many Deer?

The author (above) has a good friend in Nebraska who believes Midwest landowners can’t have too many whitetails.

My Nebraska buddy and whitetail fanatic Terron Bauer has a different opinion than most when it comes to deer numbers. Some may frown on his advice, but it’s hard to argue against his management practices when you look at his past successes. Last fall, Bauer arrowed a pair of bucks — an eight-year-old double drop-tine, and a 150-inch-class straight 10 with split brows on his family farm — a farm he’s been managing intensely for the past decade. The year before that, he dropped the hammer on a 160-inch 13-point buck.

 “I’m a little different than most when it comes to deer numbers,” Bauer said. “I believe in the Midwest; you can’t have too many deer on your property. Lots of land managers talk about lowering doe numbers to boost a property’s carrying capacity. I get it, but I look at doe numbers like a bottle of water. You can dump half that water out, but you can turn on the faucet and fill it up again. If I have 80 does on my property and I shoot 10, 10 more will take their place.

 “The Corn Belt got its name for a reason. There is so much food. My advice is not to worry about having too many does if you hunt the Midwest. When you have a bunch of does, the seeking phase of the rut can be just awesome. Bucks are constantly on the move checking various bedding areas and the like. And, if you live in a state like Nebraska or Missouri, where the rifle season falls during peak breeding, those bucks won’t have to travel nearly as far because lots of does will be in estrous. The does keep them on your property and prevent them from wandering about and getting shot.”

Bauer also feels, especially for those hunters with smaller chunks of land, that shooting does on a regular basis increases on-the-farm hunting pressure.

 “If you get too hung up with controlling does, you’ll be in the woods a lot. That’s fine. However, if you hunt a small farm like I do, in-and-out human traffic along with packing dead does out of the woods increases felt human pressure, which can affect buck movement.”

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