Bruce: Will Taking A Doe Hurt Your Chances for a Buck?

Rut Reporter Eric Bruce has been writing about hunting and fishing for newspapers and magazines for 25 years and hunts deer all over the South, including near his Georgia home. States covered: AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, SC, FL.

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Should you shoot a doe during the rut? Assuming you can legally harvest a doe during this period, and most states permit either sex, do you choose to bag the doe or let it go? There are varying opinions on this topic.

Last Tuesday a hunting buddy of mine headed toward his stand before dawn. While walking through a grown up field, he jumped a good buck with a rack outside its ears. With the help of nearby street lights, he watched the buck run off toward his hunting area.

As he set up in his stand for the morning hunt, he heard at least three bucks running around and grunting in the darkness. When the sun finally illuminated the woods, the first deer to show up was a big doe and he promptly sent an arrow into it. He waited another thirty minutes hoping a buck would show up, but none did.

Having to be at work at 10am, he got down, and while he was dressing the doe, he heard a snort and looked up to see the same big buck looking at him 50 yards away, and then walking off. I asked him why he shot a doe with all the buck activity. He replied that she was the first deer to show, but he did not think that taking the doe hurt his chances at one of the bucks. I did not agree.

Thursday afternoon I was walking to my stand and noticed several new large rubs. Thirty minutes after setting up, I heard some noise and three deer trotted in directly under my stand. The mature doe, with her two fawns, nervously looked back the way she came. I could have taken her, but I didn't. I had my reasons.

I was hoping that a big buck was after her and was on his way. (Only a 3-pointer showed up five minutes later.) I also wanted this wise old doe to raise those fawns and get them a good start toward maturity. But mostly I want her to come into heat in the next week or so and draw bucks into the area. Hopefully I'll be there then and get a crack at one of them. If she's dead and gone, I've lost that attraction or buck lure.

Saturday I was hunting with my buddy in the same area he saw the big buck. After two hours of seeing no deer at all, a doe sneaked in behind me. Not having seen any buck activity that morning or seeing any other deer around, I drew back my bow and sent a Muzzy broadhead through her shoulder and collected some tender venison. The difference was that I didn't think that there were any bucks around that morning pursuing her and she didn't have any fawns with her.

If you kill a doe during the rut does it hurt your chances of seeing a buck? Depends on the situation of course. If a buck is closely following a doe and you shoot it, chances are the buck will bolt. But then again maybe not, rut-crazed bucks do crazy things sometimes. If you drop a doe in front of your stand, will its lingering scent draw a buck in?

Bucky Johnson was hunting in East Evangeline Parish, Louisiana this week and heard a buck grunting. Following a doe, only five yards behind her, was a big buck and a small buck. Bucky shot the big one shown here, a 220 pound six-pointer with a 17 inch spread. Obviously, shooting the buck was the best choice, but what if the buck was two hundreds yards behind the doe and he shot her first?

With the rut gearing up in southern Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia, hunters may face this situation. Shoot the doe or let it go. It could cost you a chance at a monster on its way, or you may pass up the chance for some fresh venison. From reports coming in, bucks chasing does are becoming more common in many areas, but it's still kind of spotty.