This article is all Don Higgins because honestly I didn’t really have the answer or good reasoning in terms of herd management/building behind what does I chose to shoot.
My personal decision on which doe to take was which one had the largest body, therefore providing the most meat for my tag. Also if they were too smart and jeopardized potential buck encounters by knowing where I was hunting...if they blow they must go!
I also just don’t like to shoot young deer such as fawns/yearlings, I have no reasoning behind this other than I guess I’m a softie and would like to give the deer more than a few months of life. Just being honest…
But from a management standpoint or rather from a “growing trophy bucks” viewpoint Don had some interesting takes that seem to make perfect sense to me.
Here’s what Don had to say:
“Shoot does with twin buck fawns or even 1 buck fawn. If you do this the buck fawns will stay on your property, if not the doe will push them off and they will relocate. This is what happens in nature naturally to prevent inbreeding, however by killing the doe and allowing distant inbreeding the genetics of the bucks on your property can improve faster.”
Don had raised captive deer as well as beef cattle. I myself come from a Dairy farming background (did that my whole life until 1 ½ yrs ago) and having worked with cattle and genetics to get maximum milk production it makes sense. In dairy cattle using AI breeding we have been able to greatly increase the milk production in recent years, the genetics are pretty close with some inbreeding and that’s how they have made the gains so quickly. I’m sure it’s the same with captive deer sporting those ridiculous racks!
So to sum it up if you want to try increasing the antler size of the bucks on your property make it a point to shoot the does with the buck fawns.
I believe Don said that he has increased the average antler size on his small home property by around 20” since he’s owned it (20+ years?). It’s definitely not an overnight result but if you play the long game you can definitely see some growth!
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