While archery seasons are in full swing in many states, hunters in several others celebrated their opening weekends just recently. And if one thing stood in last week’s rut reports, it’s this: shooting does is an often-overlooked, yet important part of a successful season. We celebrate big bucks here, and do so without apology…Yet doe harvests are just as wonderful, and our rut reporter team did an excellent job of pointing that out this week.
Southern rut reporter Eric Bruce showed us his first doe of the season, and his hunt serves as an excellent example of why focusing on antlerless deer makes us better hunters. Eric did a fantastic job of adapting to a fluid situation by altering his approach to his stand to avoid spooking deer, then made a great shot on a fine doe. His harvest illustrates a critical aspect of shooting does; nothing prepares you for shooting a big buck better than shooting a lot of deer, and antlerless deer often provide that opportunity. Of course, Eric also helped with herd management and put some great meat in his freezer.
Mid-South rut reporter Will Brantley brought up two other important benefits of focusing on antlerless deer: doing so not only keeps you plugged in to the hottest food sources, but it also keeps you tuned in to where family groups of does are located. As the breeding urge intensifies in bucks, they will focus their activity near these pockets of antlerless deer. If you’re not aware of their locations, you can spend the better part of the rut a half-step behind. Trust me, I’ve been there!