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Dominant Doe Effect
I brought this topic up on another thread and thought I would like to hear some of your ideas about it and didn't want to detract from the other thread so I started this one. The topic is about the effect a dominant doe has on the hunting in a particular feeding area. A lot of us hunt areas that are food sources because it is productive. It could be a food plot, apple orchard, acorn tree, a big patch of honey suckle or a corn feeder. The effect I speak of is the control a particular dominant doe can have on the amount of deer that frequent a food source and the quality of hunting you end up with having her around. I have seen good food sources go from great for many years to so so quickly due to particular old does running most of the other deer off during the peak feed times in the least if not most of the time night and day. This in turn reduces the rut activity around the food source, pushing it away and out of site. Guys will come in and complain how the deer rut hasn't happened yet or was weak or whatever not knowing that the lack of activity is due to the dominance of the the old doe that they named 'Lucy Lue' three seasons ago that just keeps on coming back every day. You know, the old doe that rears up on all the other deer scattering them out of there. Once she has been bread less cruising bucks will come around that area because they are off chasing the lesser does. I think that for a quality hunting experience it is best to take the old does out as early in the season as you can, 3.5 and older, which is contrary to the buck management philosophy. When she is gone the younger does filter back in bringing bucks with them. Those old does do more harm than good. What do you think and why?
I meant to say I think we should take does 4.5 and older. Leave the 3.5s.
How do you tell how old a doe is? After they get to be 2.5 they all look like does to me. I've had 2-3 year old does that were giants and some of the same age that were smaller, just like bucks.
That could be hard, the older ones look like limousines with big long snouts and they dominate other deer. Get several in a bunch and you may be able to tell. It is more of a challenge I admit but can be done reasonably. I guess you are judging their character as much as anything else. Travel areas would be hard to manage them but feeding areas it is easier to point out the dominant ones.
I guess hunting the midwest is a little different, I see 4-6 does per sit moving into a feed field where they all spread out and feed. I guess it's different when they all line up at the trough, the dominant traits are probably easier to see in that situation.
I've never noticed dominant does running other does away from a feeding area. Admittedly I hunt clover pastures, oak trees and agriculture fields
I've seen does rear up and flail, and move other does away from their immediate area, but never actually chase them completely from the food source
Yes i have nasty old doe ive seen her for about 4 years I bet she is at least 5 or 6 . She runs off any deer that wanders thru just allows her daughter from 2 years ago to feed close any other deer gets run down. Just the other evening i was walking my dog had my headlamp on and she started to walk towards us to beat us up !
My educated quess would be if the food source is concentrated into a small area, ie, feeder, small food plot, etc. I can see where an older dominant doe (s) may chase ( or at least scatter) other deer from that site. Until this year I have never hunted over a food plot( just "free ranging") and was able to watch deer react while on site or watched deer feed around a feeder which was 100 yards plus away from the stand. Even at that , I did not see where any does actually drove the other deer away that did not come back later. There were at least 12 does and fawns in the plot.Yea, a few did rear up and kick but then went back to feeding a few yards away.
Years ago, 1970, in the UP of Michigan while going to college, I worked with a Division Biologist in a "deer yard" in the winter and it was here I saw many deer competing for the cedar browse that was available. This was a life or death situation and the deer, mostly does would do their best to get their food even if it meant driving away that years' fawn.
While the "effect" of a "dominant" doe may be an issue in a few places, it does not seem to be a case in most area, especially where there is a lot of large scattered food sources. I guess there will always be a few exceptions of the rule.
Maybe a little herd management is due where it does exist.
In areas of limited food sources or concentrated preferred food sources it is obvious that dominant does determine who gets to eat. Especially in high deer densities. The drought should magnify this and the herd may need to be thined down for overall herd health to prepare for winter and old does is probably the best place to start.