Can You Have Too Many Deer?

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If so, should you target lower deer densities?

Do you have too many does on your hunting grounds? (Shutterstock / Amy Lutz photo)

It is possible to have too many deer when trying to hunt during the late season. All those eyes and their wary late-season nature make it really tough to get away with any movement. It can be nearly impossible to hunt with a bow and not clear the field well before a mature buck shows up.

Hunting around food sources is even harder. I’ve hunted large food plots with piles of deer in them, only to spook one and blow the entire gang. You can try hard to shoot a buck with a bow during the late season, but despite efforts, it can be surprisingly frustrating.

Too many does is a major part of the equation. During the 2009-10 season, we couldn’t even blink up there in the tree, let alone swing a camera arm around or draw a bow. Rarely could you move without becoming the target of a dozen sets of eyes.

This eventually became so burdensome that I finally gave up on the big fields and major food sources with large deer numbers and began looking for places with fewer deer. That’s right, I targeted areas with a lower number of targets.

Strange, isn’t it?

But the strategy worked immediately. After shifting, we were able to shoot a doe the first night and saw a couple of big bucks out of bow range. And we didn’t even spook a single deer.

I learned several lessons. But the primary one — less can be more when deer are extremely concentrated during the late season.

During gun season, a shooting house and a large plot will work just fine, but when you try to climb into a tree with a bow, too many deer becomes a definite liability. As a result, I started planting more food plots, but kept them smaller. This too proved extremely effective.

So, several small plots are much better than a few large ones, especially when hunting with a bow. And more deer isn’t always better.

Who would have thought?

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