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How many does to take?

Rous14

Active Member
Skip do you know of a specific area or farm where the natural browse is decimated? I ask because that might be a great topic/pictures or educational video to put out there sometime because you are absolutely right, imo 99% of hunters myself included are mostly uneducated of the wide variety of natural browse that make up a deers diet.

I’d be awfully suprised though, tell me your opinion, that on a high high majority of farms in most midwestern states that there isn’t a surplus of browse for the herd levels that exist today. I know in our upper peninsula of Michigan here where due to the heavy snowfalls the deer get “yarded up” and you can see a browse line and you have that issue. But Iowa, Illinois, lower Wisconsin, lower Michigan, Ohio, Indiana......has to be an extremely rare farm/area that browse is a limiting factor on the herd numbers. Otherwise, like in our UP, you’d be having winter kill issues.
 

Hardwood11

It is going to be a good fall!
I have a farm in Minnesota that has a major browse line . It’s only 52 acres. We leave 4-5 acres of food plots.

My neighbor to the east has 400 acres of timber, CRP, swamp. No food. Not much I can do. I’ve seen 30-50 deer in the beans in late season.

We shoot a few, but it’s impossible to manage. He’s more of a bird watcher, hunts a little bit.

Right now, we shoot a few does, and add as much natural food as we can. There’s some good bucks here too, we just roll with it…

*notice browse line in back
7B6A176F-C1F0-4AC6-9AC6-6CB0A8C81525.jpeg
 

Bucksnbears

Well-Known Member
It's late season. I'll bet it's been 30 years since I haven't punched a tag by now.
I have 3 tags and 3 new numinous.
Weather permitting, I'm gonna try and make sure they all get lit up this weekend!
Simply put, I have to many does here..., and I like shooting them!
 
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Obsessed

Well-Known Member
I have a farm in Minnesota that has a major browse line . It’s only 52 acres. We leave 4-5 acres of food plots.

My neighbor to the east has 400 acres of timber, CRP, swamp. No food. Not much I can do. I’ve seen 30-50 deer in the beans in late season.

We shoot a few, but it’s impossible to manage. He’s more of a bird watcher, hunts a little bit.

Right now, we shoot a few does, and add as much natural food as we can. There’s some good bucks here too, we just roll with it…

*notice browse line in back
View attachment 121789
That browse line in the back of your pic is crazy! I've never seen anything like that. It looks like it's been professionally maintained, or like you have a herd of goats in there.
 

Daver

PMA Member
That browse line in the back of your pic is crazy! I've never seen anything like that. It looks like it's been professionally maintained, or like you have a herd of goats in there.
Just a FWIW, I have seen browse lines like that a few times, but the one that was the most stark was on a golf course in Cedar Rapids that I used to play often back in the day. Not only was that browse line very distinct, it was at a level where the deer had to stand on their back legs to get up to it. It has been a number of years, so my memory may be foggy, but I would say that the line was 6'-7' off the ground and you could look down into the timber and brush and see forever since there wasn't any low level growth in the timber that wasn't wiped out either.

I don't think the browse line would need to be as distinct as is the one in Hardwood's picture though to indicate a food supply problem though. That one is severe IMO.
 

Hardwood11

It is going to be a good fall!
I bet every evening I’ve sat there I’ve had at least one doe within 25 yards. I’ve shot some, but I can’t take one every time. Pretty automatic if you want to fill a doe tag.

Ironically my neighbor that has the sweet property likes to drive his side by side right before dark on a land cruise. The deer just watch him drive by.

Never seen anything like it, he is almost like Grizzly Adams.

But if they see us out there—boom they take off. (Here is a late season double)
A01D8852-2945-4920-B0C3-5BC30AA5A0AA.jpeg
 
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Bucksnbears

Well-Known Member
Our riverbottoms here have browse lines just like that here.
When the lighting is right, tou can see it a mile away.
That's a great pic showing it.
 

Rous14

Active Member
I have a farm in Minnesota that has a major browse line . It’s only 52 acres. We leave 4-5 acres of food plots.

My neighbor to the east has 400 acres of timber, CRP, swamp. No food. Not much I can do. I’ve seen 30-50 deer in the beans in late season.

We shoot a few, but it’s impossible to manage. He’s more of a bird watcher, hunts a little bit.

Right now, we shoot a few does, and add as much natural food as we can. There’s some good bucks here too, we just roll with it…

*notice browse line in back
View attachment 121789
Northern Minnesota? Southern? Would guess you get some fairly heavy annual snowfalls? Also, obviously I can’t tell from that picture alone but guessing it would be beneficial to do some TSI to get some forage at ground level for the deer? Looks like one of those woods where you could see all the way through it.
 

BearCreek

Member
I agree with Skip and others in that the condition of your native browse (or food plot) is the best indicator of your need to harvest deer. I haven't been on many farms in my region that appear to be suffering from deer damage. Quite frankly, I think some people use "herd balancing" as an excuse to harvest does when in reality their habitat isn't anywhere near capacity. I have taken the approach, which may be a mistake, to simply increase deer numbers as much as possible. I want my non-discriminating neighbors punching their tags on random 3.5 year old eight pointers as opposed to deer with extreme potential I'm trying to get to 5.5.
 

Habitat1

PMA Member
My thoughts reading through this, very good chain here. I'm early on in having land so don't have any fully tested theories yet that I can tell you work for certain. I wouldn't think you'd want to let doe numbers get too high above the buck numbers, I seen 3 and 4 does to 1 buck mentioned here which I think would be a good mix. I don't think mature bucks love areas with too many deer walking around as they are bedded up - have heard that termed social stress before, where it can push them out having too much disturbance from other deer, they'd prefer to lay in isolation to better detect danger with less noises and movement throughout the day. I think too many does can result in a longer drawn out extended rut which wouldn't be good for them taking their minds off the ladies to start feeding again to get their bodies back in shape before winter hits, especially when it's at a point where does aren't getting bred the first time through and cycle back into heat later. One other disadvantage would be having more eyes, ears, and noses to beat when trying to get in and out undetected. Also worth mentioning too many does means more mouths to feed which requires more efforts keeping up native browse, plots, and some more heartaches planting trees etc. I can buy into bucks not having to compete and fight too much for does as mentioned so don't believe a 1 to 1 ratio is the answer either.
 

Bassattackr

Active Member
What timing.. This podcast (Ep 69) just came out from Mossy Oak Gamekeeper. The result after listening to it was that the native browse and food plot pressure were the best indicators of total carrying capacities. As far as ratios go, Dr. Demarais only went so far as to say that 1:1 was best for "trophy hunting areas."

Link for those interested..


1639961491908.png
 

chadw

Active Member
After pondering on this much of the season, I also asked Bill, he was gracious enough to write a blog about it. Very cool.


That is a great read. Thanks for prompting Bill to share his thoughts and experience!


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