Interesting and I‘ll say that my experience on my farm has been similar. We’ve not taken a single doe in 5 hunting seasons now and I would say that for all 5 years we’ve felt as though our buck:doe ratio has remained the same. I can’t scientifically say what that ratio is but our observation is that during October thru February we see just about as many antlered deer as we do does. The other parts of the year is predominantly does.
Id also add that I don’t really think our overall numbers on my place have increased much either. Marginally but not significantly. Can’t explain that either other than I suspect we all greatly underestimate how much “herd management” the explosion in coyote numbers is doing. We all have way more doe hunters killing does on our farms than we did back in the day (they’re just not using guns/bows, they’re using packs and teeth) and i don’t think as an industry we are accounting for that by reducing our doe harvest.
Determining the amount of deer that the habitat in IA and IL will support and therefore how many does to harvest is, in my opinion, largely unknown because when the herd was at all time highs in the late 2000’s the quality was also off the charts good so someone would have to explain to me how there were too many deer for the habitat to support when by every metric the herd was in phenomenal condition. So I struggle with the concept that we need to reduce or maintain deer levels in the name of the “health of the herd“, “buck:doe ratio”, ”if you’re out of food in February”, etc….To me those are largely made up ideas by the hunting industry and hunters in general to justify hearing their gun go bang or releasing an arrow- and I get it, it’s fun to shoot a deer, hunting should be fun and I don’t want to discount that. But 12-15 years ago we had 15-40% more deer in almost every county in IA and IL. And the hunting was better. I know the harvesting equipment the farmers use has become more efficient and doesn’t leave much behind but I suspect it’s not much different than it was 12 years ago so those deer didn’t have much food to find in the fields then either and there was way more mouths. They have fat reserves, they get through. Plus there are waayyyyy more acres in food plots across the Midwest than theres ever been so I’m convinced that the habitat could absolutely sustain a huge increase in deer numbers in MOST areas not all (sounds like Daver and some other posters on here have some areas where numbers are really high) Now, the farm bereau and auto insurance co’s……whole different story and if I were them I wouldn’t want more deer either.