Milk River filming 2010 luke doeIf a big fat doe walks 30 yards under your stand during opening week, should you shoot it? This QDMA article makes some solid biological points about why you should, but the first comment that follows the article makes, I feel, an even better point about why you shouldn’t:

ELPzee wrote: I’m still waiting until December to fill my freezers. Here’s why. Pressure! If you shoot does early in the season you’re pressuring your herd before the rut, reducing your chances of killing that monster buck.

In regions where (hunter) densities are high and tracts of land are small…waiting to harvest does makes your land become a sanctuary, especially if you are surrounded by trigger happy hunters (on neighboring lands). That’s why I see more deer as the season goes on while everyone else is scratching their heads wondering why they only saw deer the first two weeks of the season. They aren’t seeing deer because they tagged 7 does in the first 2 weeks, while I let my spot become a sanctuary.

When you shoot a doe with your bow, you climb out of your stand and track it a ways, sometimes a long way…then you gut and drag it out, or bring in an ATV to haul it out. All this pressure creates movement, noise and scent in the woods that mature bucks react to.

Will the pressure of shooting one doe during the first weeks of bow season make a big buck in the area change his pattern and/or turn him nocturnal? Maybe, maybe not. But why take the chance?

Now if you hunt a huge tract of land with many stand options for hunting multiple bucks, it probably would not hurt to shoot a doe or 2 in September or early October. You kill the deer, get it out and rest the stand for a week or so while you hunt other spots. This will not put too much direct pressure on the deer.

Also, if you hunt public ground with other hunters, and do not have any bucks patterned or on camera, it makes sense to shoot the first big doe that walks by. This is especially true if you have only a few days to hunt this season.

But as ELPzee noted above, if your goal is a big buck, do not shoot a doe early if you hunt a small tract of private land, like millions of you do. Especially don’t do it you know a shooter buck is working the immediate area, and double especially don’t do it if you have a recent trail-camera image of a big deer lurking. To shoot a doe and possibly mess that opportunity up makes absolutely no sense.

Here are some more thoughts on doe-shooting in a blog I wrote awhile ago.

Do you think you’ll whack a doe early, or wait until later in December or January to fill the freezer?