Why You Should Take Does (Early)

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The whitetail deer is a truly amazing creature. When does give birth to fawns you never know the potential that fawn has to turn into a huge buck or be a doe that grows the population.

In 1900 there were only an estimated 500,000 whitetail deer scattered throughout North America. Now three times that many inhabit the Edwards Plateau of Texas—alone. Good management of this resource goes a long way, but the fact is at some level we have managed deer into trouble. There are too many for the carrying capacity of the land in certain regions.

I recently came across an interesting theory by Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences that details a method of deer management hunters can utilize and get behind. It’s called the “Rose Petal Hypothesis.”

“Research in New York found that when a group of female deer were eliminated from a local area, this area had reduced deer densities for three to five years. Picture a dominant female in the center surrounded by her female offspring whose home ranges overlap to some degree with their mother, like the petals of a rose.”

“If you pluck one or more of these roses off the landscape, you can create an area of low deer density because of the very low female dispersal rate. No new females move into the area to ‘grow’ another rose.”

Plucking a rose means killing deer, and you need to take your does early. Hunters often pass on does to wait on a big buck. However when it comes to managing for actual herd reduction, shooting does is what gets the job done.

Here are some facts to consider when you choose to manage by rifle.

As mentioned before, the key is to take out does early in the season. Of course, you can shoot them throughout the season, but chances are if you do not get them early you might forego hunting them altogether.

The hunting community is constantly talking about how it is pro conservation, and this is a chance to put it into action. Keeping deer numbers trimmed down to a healthy level is good for everything from the deer to the songbirds.

In addition, taking extra deer can be a good thing for people in need, which we have plenty of in our nation.

You can consider supporting Hunters for the Hungry.

Hunters for the Hungry has provided more than nine million servings of venison to Texans in need. Through the program, hunters can donate legally tagged, field-dressed deer at participating meat processors.

The processors prepare the venison for distribution to local hunger relief agencies such as food banks and food pantries. By doing this, you can give hungry Texans a heart-healthy venison meal and let them know hunters care.

According to Penn State there is a catch to the Rose Petal Hypothesis.

“When deer densities are lower like in the Adirondacks where the Rose Petal Hypothesis was developed, there are fewer deer and limited female dispersal however, with higher deer densities there is simply too much female dispersal to ever create a localized area of low deer density. The roses just grow too darn fast.”

For hunters with properties already being managed correctly, this should inspire you to take out even more does.

Chester Moore, Jr.



  1. Jon says:

    A benefit that you didn’t mention is the fact that reducing the total number of does reduces the number of does that get get bred by bucks with inferior genetics.

    • Ron says:

      Taking does early also means you don’t harvest that doe later after it was bred by that huge buck you’ve been after.