A healthy buck-to-doe ratio is not only good for the deer herd, but it’s good for the hunter, too.
Land manager Glenn Garner and I have been discussing this issue as we wait for the season to start. Last fall, there were many times when I grunted at a passing buck, tickled the tines of antlers and put a decoy in front of a deer. Well, these tactics didn’t produce like you see on TV every night. The bucks completely ignored my signals most of the time.
It’s exciting to call or rattle-in a buck and watch him react to a decoy, or sit in a tree on the edge of a field and watch bucks fight over a doe. I asked Glenn why we weren’t seeing more of this, and he said it was because even after all the does we’ve thinned out, our buck-to-doe ratio was still too high.
I never really considered this was the reason for less exciting hunts. I thought getting the amount of bucks to does was simply a herd management issue—one that balances deer herds with the habitat and have bucks of many ages in the population. But I guess it all makes sense now.
From my younger days, I remember seeing fights break out at honky tonks. Most were over a woman. Keep in mind, most of the places didn’t have a huge pool of women to socialize with. If there were a few with full sets of teeth, they were the ones being fought over. On the other hand, when a stag male with a list of pick-up lines written on the bill of his cap finds himself surrounded by women, he doesn’t have to compete with other bachelors. He just finds one that isn’t already being courted without having to move very far.
Now, I don’t know how bucks judge a good mate, but when there are fewer mates to select from, they’re more aggressive. They’ll answer to threats. They’ll bust tines over a doe. And they’ll increase their movement around the rut—kind of like how a fella looking for love bar hops in a small town.
These are the relationships I love about land management. We’re helping the herd, while also making our hunts more exciting and increasing our chance of success. Whether it’s planting a food plot, controlling predators or keeping the doe population in check, you’re promoting good stewardship of the outdoors while improving the quality of hunts for yourself and those you love.
If your rut-hunting tactics fall flat, consider blaming the doe:buck ratio. Living with a house full of women, I know having too many women around can sometimes complicate things.