Question: A couple fellow deer hunters and I were talking about managing whitetail deer on low fence land. The topics of buck to doe ratio, mature bucks, and letting deer go and grow all came up. The question nobody could give a good solid answer to was “if you start taking doe to get a better ratio, will the bucks leave the ranch to go where there are more does?” Most of these hunters hunt properties ranging from from 200 to 900 acre low fence properties. What do you think, because I was of the opinion that property size would play a big role? Less deer means more food for the ones there already, but I can also see where the bucks might just go to another ranch that has an abundance of doe?
Answer: The positives of a good deer management program definitely out weigh all of the concerns you mentioned regarding your local deer population. A better buck to doe ratio will give you a more defined rut, but you also have to realize that if you reduce the number of deer on your property, then neighboring deer will also move into your ranch. Particulary when times are tough. Antlers will get better with a lower deer density. Of course, with a better buck to doe ratio you will see more of your bucks, and it just makes the hunt more fun in my opinion.
If you have small acreage then concentrate on improving your deer habitat and making certain parts of your ranch sancuary areas that you simply stay out of. Thats the way to hold mature bucks on your property. Most people hunt every square inch of small properties and that’s where they go wrong. Bucks can roam as much as 3 to 5 miles in one day during the rut, so you will not be able to hold all your bucks, but you will probably gain some, too. I have regularly harvested does on our ranch and activity during the rut is awsome. We also see some of the same bucks year after year.
I know some guys that have been managing a 640 acre low fence place for the past 12 years with some outstanding results. And yes, the ranches around us are deer hunted, too.