Outfoxing any deer in the wild under fair chase conditions is difficult, and should be seen in the light of the success that it is, especially for new hunters. Way too much emphasis is placed on shooting bucks with large antlers in the view of many. Does are often as alert as bucks, and probably more so during the rut. They produce excellent venison and should be seen as a trophy in their own right. In an era of Quality Deer Management, harvesting does is critical to keeping the buck-to-doe ratio in balance, preventing over-browsing of forests, and limiting crop damage in agricultural areas. Jennifer Pudenz shares her experiences and frustrations as a big-buck hunter until she learned that bagging a doe has all the ingredients of the hunt including a sharp learning curve:
If there’s one thing the hunting industry pushes, it’s trophy bucks, trophy bucks, TROPHY BUCKS. I was caught up in this mindset when I first started hunting. As soon as I had a successful first bowhunting season, I determined I didn’t want to shoot anything unless it was a “wallhanger,” and I was going to fill my buck tag before I tried to shoot any does. It only took a couple of frustrating hunting seasons for me to throw out this approach. I decided to concentrate on taking does, and this decision ended up making me a better bowhunter in several different ways. Only now, looking back, do I realize how much I gained by focusing on the does.
I’ve learned that one of most valuable things to a hunter is experience in the field. That is what originally made me turn to does. I needed to forget about giant antlers and concentrate on having more of those “moments of truth” when I release an arrow at an animal. Waiting until after I filled my buck tag to shoot a doe didn’t work for several reasons…