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 The Real Truth About Does Part One 
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Post The Real Truth About Does Part One
The Real Truth About Does Part One
by: Albie Berk

When deer were a threatened species due to vast market-hunting and poor laws to govern the hunt, many hunters revered the female deer as the source of fawns and future populations. People who took the lives of does were mocked, jeered, and even persecuted by those who hoped to see the deer herd reach the point that it has in 1990. The superior value of the life of the doe was imprinted in the minds of sportsmen. Fathers passed this idea down, and it is still prevailing attitude. The sanctity of does as management policy contributed to the most successful wildlife restoration in history.

Now there are upwards of 15 million white tail deer, where there was scarcely a track 30 years ago. An older friend of mine can remember spotting a deer track while squirrel hunting in his youth in my home area of Kentucky. When he told the elders at the country store about it they did not believe him. Now there are tracks in their gardens.

In many areas more does need harvesting and hunters are encouraged, rather than forbidden, to take them. Buck hunter pressure with doe protection in established herds produces eventual buck-doe ratios of poor proportions.

In areas where the deer population needs increasing, doe kills are forbidden by law. Here shooting one reproducing doe is like shooting several deer, since the hunter is eliminating the future offspring of the animal as well as the doe itself. In such an area (one in which biologists forbid doe-shooting), the hunter should be very careful when he shoots that he has indeed seen antlers and that the buck is sufficiently separated from the does to prevent a poor shot or a shot in which the bullet or arrow goes through the buck to the doe. The accidental kill of an illegal doe can be a bad experience. If the hunter happens to accidentally shoot an illegal doe, it is recommended that he leave it in place and go to a telephone to call a local conservation officer. The chance that the officer will allow him to salvage the animal upon honest explanation is worth the call. If the hunter was to load up the animal before the call, the conservation officer would have reason to expect a !
purposeful game violation. Don't try to pull one on a game warden. They have been around and heard it all. There is nothing they appreciate less than someone trying to put one over on them. Trust the warden to be your friend when you are tempted to hide a doe under the leaves and brush. The wasted animal might be buried, but you can't bury the memory.

Some doe protectionists have a notion akin to "send the men to fight but leave the women at home." The same attitude is reflected in the idea that it is all right to strike a man but never, ever, to strike a woman. This attitude is giving way to "doe lib." The doe is liberated game in the 1990s.

We no longer fire biologists who recommend doe seasons but have become educated along with them. We have learned the ills of overpopulation. We have to give up the idea of large, unman-aged herds of deer in favor of smaller, well-balanced and healthy herds.

Long, cold winters are the great deer killers in the north, but we realize that it is not the cold itself that kills, but rather the lack of food in the winter months.

People who see does caring graciously for their fawns think they will share food with them when it is scarce. Contrarily, does chase their fawns from food sources when it is sparse, just as dogs do. Larger does eat the low browse first then turn to the higher limb tips which the fawns and younger deer cannot reach.

Even in the south, where food is generally abundant, deer die offs occur where they overpopulate. A viral infection called "epizootic hemorrhagic" disease, which kills deer in very high populations, often develops. This disease is carried by flies and gnats, insects which spread rapidly where larger numbers of hosts occupy a home range densely. Internal parasites spread more quickly where larger numbers of deer are concentrated. Cattle stomach and lung worms are parasites found in the south where too many deer are located together. These one-inch worms find their way to the organs of deer and suck blood.

Almost all deer diseases are aggravated by malnutrition, which is brought about by overpopulation. Disease can wipe out 80% —90% of a herd in one year. There is always the possibility that a large scale natural disaster could alter the trend toward deer abundance and health we are now experiencing. It would only take one widespread disease to make the whitetail a rare animal again since the deer have overlapping ranges from coast to coast.

About The Author
Albie Berk enjoys hunting and sharing what he has learned and any successful tips he can with others. He enjoys South Carolina hunting and usually stays at Carolina Buck and Boar.

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Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:56 pm
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