If and when you need to thin the herd or fill your freezer full of venison, the best time to shoot a doe is when you will spook the herd the least. That's why the best time is also the most strategic time. A case could be made that either shooting does early or late in the season is best when instead, both are highly strategic!
Not everyone needs to harvest does on their land, meaning that your best time to shoot a doe, is not yet. However, if you combine a great habitat design with a powerful and non-invasive hunting strategy, you can be certain that does and their fawns will flood your land! But that brings up two problems:
1. Does take up space and can increase in number enough to literally push bucks off of your small parcel bounderies in particular, if you are doing a great job in the way that you hunt and manage your habitat.
2. You need to make sure that you are shooting does at the most strategic times of the season, so that you still have the best chance of building a quality herd and hunt.
*A case could be made that the early season is the best time, but I find it a lot easier to shoot does in bulk, during the late season. What's the right answer? Both are great and if the does on your land are easy to harvest when needed, that is likely the #1 sign that you have a healthy habitat and Hunting Strategy.
Is The Early Season The Best Time To Shoot A Doe?
The early season is a highly strategic time to shoot a doe! However, is it the best time? A chance to lower sex ratios, lower browse pressure and make room for more bucks on your land are great reasons to shoot does early, but you can accomplish the same for next year, by shooting does during the late season. I love the early season because I can get the kids out in comfortable weather to quietly and non-invasively harvest some does. The best thing about shooting does during the early season, is that there is plenty of time for your land to rest before the heart of the season, when your best time to attract, hold, grow, and shape a deer herd is at it's climax. The early season is a great time for the local herd to feel some pressure, while still having plenty of time to calm down before things get serious, when it comes to creating a high quality herd and buck hunt.
*By far the worst time to set out and shoot a few does, is during the heart of the season. The one exception is when you already have a buck down during the rut or maybe the gun season opener. I always attempt to turn my weapon towards a nearby doe if possibly, when I already have to retrieve a buck that I have already shot. Keeping your land free from pressure during the heart of the season, could be the most important hunting strategy that you can Practice.
Could The Late Season Be The Most Strategic Time To Shoot A Doe?
Early or late you still can a make a major difference for the following season, if there is antlerless harvest needed on your land. While the early season can be low impact, random and quiet, the late season is filled with aggresively bulk opportunities to meet your goals in less 2 days. By using unpressured high quality food and cover sources, your deer herd should be set up, for you to be able to harvest several does at one time if needed. In 2007 a buddy of mine and I were able to harvest 9 does in less than 5 hours of total hunting, because the deer had passed nearly 3 months of the hunting season, without being pressured on our food plots. They literally, didn't know what hit them!
*On the land we hunted for 12 years, we ranged from shooting zero does a few years to 12 does in 1 season. Just because you have does, doesn't mean that it is time to shoot some. This 5 hour hunt resulted in 9 does harvested, because they had been set up for a bulk hunt during the late season, after a Doe Factory had been created.
Try not to get caught up in a debate of exactly when is the best time to shoot a doe or two. Instead, do you your best to hone in on a timeframe that you can efficiently harvest enough does, with a very low level of impact on your overall quality herd building and hunting efforts. The old strategy of shooting every mature does a hunter sees when herd numbers were high, is hopefully long gone! Why? Because if you want to create a quality herd and hunt on your land, the best time to thin the herd will be most effective when you mix strategy and herd goals, into the power of creating a non-invasive hunting footprint on your land.