Hunting antlerless deer is good conservation and introducing new hunters

It’s deer season. Words hunters can’t wait to hear each year. Across the Midwest, bow seasons have opened, youth seasons are taking place, and firearms seasons are on the brink. The rut is still a few weeks away, giving us plenty of opportunity to prepare for prime time. Tuning up with a doe hunt or two maybe the ticket. 

Most states offer liberal doe harvest opportunities. This is because the number of does on the landscape far outpaces the number of bucks, in most places. Going out with the specific goal of harvesting a doe or two is a solid conservation move, but also a great opportunity to bring along another person for your hunt. Maybe this person is someone new to hunting or is someone who doesn’t want to shoot a deer but does want to spend time with you. 

Ground blinds have gained popularity for deer hunting over the past decade. Numerous companies produce quality, lightweight, portable blinds that serve hunter needs. Permanent blinds have also become much mor popular. These manufactured blinds work well for the ground hunter and are tough to beat when taking a new hunter with you. 

Hunting from a ground blind has numerous advantages. One doesn’t have to be nearly as still when inside the confines of a blind. Also, if it is going to be a little chilly during your hunt, you can take a heater with you. I’m old enough now to put all the tough guy stuff aside. If I can hunt comfortably, I will. Sitting in a lawn chair with a few thousands BTUs pumping out onto my feet sure makes for a more enjoyable experience than freezing in near zero-degree temperatures. Think about how much your new to hunting companion will enjoy the warmth of a heater. 

A lot of crops are being harvested right now. Positioning your blind on the edge of a freshly picked field where deer enter each evening is a good bet on a doe hunt. A night or two of scouting should help you identify a good spot for setting up your blind. 

Years ago, I decided to try ambushing deer that were feeding in a picked bean field by hunting from inside of a cornfield. It was a great decision. On the first evening, I shot a nice eight-pointer. Since that hunt, I have slipped into many cornfields to hunt deer. Use the standing corn as a blind, especially now because if you can find a standing cornfield this late in the game, you will likely find a lot of deer using it. 

Deer use ditches like highways. If you can find cover along a ditch through open country, you want to give that spot a second look. Plus, you can stay hidden on your way to spots like this by walking down in the ditch. Try to position yourself on the opposite side of the ditch you think the deer will travel, so when a shot materializes, the deer won’t be right on top of you.

Missouri held a new firearms early antlerless portion of deer season, Oct. 6-8. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reports 16,575 deer were taken. The top-three harvest counties were Franklin with 489 deer harvested, Howell with 454, and Ripley with 437.

“With deer numbers being at desired levels in most counties but continuing to increase, additional antlerless harvest is needed to stabilize the deer population,” said MDC Cervid Program Supervisor Jason Isabelle. “The goal of the new firearms early antlerless portion is to help increase antlerless deer harvest prior to the November portion of firearms season when many hunters focus on harvesting bucks.”

Some hunters questioned the timing of the new season. Isabelle said the dates were chosen to provide hunting opportunity when weather conditions are usually favorable and to minimize conflicts with archery hunters, who hunt most in late October and early November.

“Hunters couldn’t have asked for much better weather,” said Isabelle. “After a warm start to October, the cooler weather during this year’s early antlerless portion helped to increase daytime deer movement and made for comfortable conditions for hunters.”

 Shooting does is a large part of the overall conservation strategy tied to deer hunting. While some hunt exclusively for the chance to tag a mature buck, most hunters are primarily after meat. Taking a doe or two each year helps keep the overall herd in better balance. And as they say, you can’t each antlers. 

See you down the trail… 
Brandon Butler

Pic: Antlerless hunts are great for taking a special person along for the experience. 

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