Whitetails: November Primary Breeding Phase, Post Primary Breeding Phase and Rest Phase

From early to late November the majority of the does should be in estrus, and the bucks should be cruising, chasing and breeding does, which causes scraping and rubbing to tail off.

By early November scraping by whitetail bucks may have already peaked. From early to late November the majority of the does should be in estrus, and the bucks should be cruising, chasing and breeding does, which causes scraping and rubbing to tail off. But, the bucks may still be scraping and checking scrapes near nighttime food sources, and in travel corridors.

Scout to locate buck rub routes and feeding areas, backtrack rub routes to locate buck core areas and bedding sites. By mid to late November many of the older does have been bred, and some of the older bucks may return to their core areas to rest, where you can hunt them during the day. Some older does may still be in estrus and some doe fawns may come into estrus. Some of the older bucks may continue scraping and some of the younger bucks may start scraping as they look for does. Hunt all day.

Population Objectives, Balancing Social Structure and Carrying Capacity

When we are talking about ideal social conditions in deer management the buck to doe ratio should be close to one buck to one doe (1:1). However, in areas where this type of management has not been practiced the buck to doe ratio may be as low as one buck to three does (1:3). Keeping the buck to doe ratio in balance helps increase the number of older bucks. It can also improve the social ranking, health and reproductive rate of the herd.

A herd of 100 deer with a makeup of 50 percent bucks and does will not increase by 100 percent per year, because some of the does will be too young to breed and some too old to conceive. Even if each doe produces twins the natural mortality rate would keep the increase below 100 animals.

If you are trying to increase the number of older bucks in the area you must remember that the habitat can only carry so many deer, it makes no difference if they are bucks or does. The herd must also be kept in balance with the carrying capacity of the habitat, in order to keep both the habitat and the animals healthy.

Let's assume that there are 100 animals with a 50:50 male to female ratio, and the total property area has a carrying capacity of 150 animals. If every doe produces twins, and 3/4 of the young survive, the herd is now above carrying capacity of the land with 175 animals. Up to 25 animals should be removed through natural mortality, predation or hunting to prevent habitat destruction and starvation. If half the young are bucks and half does, and no natural mortality or predation occurs, the buck to doe ratio must be kept in balance by removing 12 males and 12 females the next year. This will keep the herd at carrying capacity. But, the herd should be kept below carrying capacity. By keeping the herd below capacity you insure that if a severe winter, drought or habitat destruction occurs the animals may still survive.

In many cases hunters only remove the males from the herd, which can be disastrous. If 25 males are removed from the herd there will be 37 males and 62 females, leaving 99 animals. Some of the bucks shot will be 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 years old, and they will never have a chance to become dominant breeding bucks. But, the real problem is that there are now 62 does that can conceivably produce 124 young, with a 75 percent survival rate, increasing the herd by 93 the next year for a total of 192 deer, with 83 bucks and 109 does.

Because the herd is above carrying capacity habitat destruction is likely to occur. If the hunters again remove only males, by taking 42 bucks, there are still 109 does instead of the original 50. If the practice of taking only bucks continues there will not be enough mature males left to ensure that all the does will be bred during the peak of the rut; some late born fawns will starve or die of exposure, and the population may crash. Even if the population doesn't suffer the number of older bucks will decline.

In order to produce more older bucks some of the does must be taken each year. If the habitat is at carrying capacity and the is herd balanced, as many females as males must be taken each year in order to keep the herd in balance with the carrying capacity of the habitat. If the herd is kept below carrying capacity there may be enough forage even if the harvest quotas are not met; production is higher than normal; or forage production is reduced by unforeseen circumstances.

The best strategy for responsible deer management is to keep the herd below carrying capacity, and the male to female ratio as balanced as possible.

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