Most of us wait until after the rut and later in the season, December or even January where legal, to shoot a doe or two for the freezer. But should we consider filling our doe tags now?

Specialists at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) say targeting antlerless deer earlier in the year has its advantages.

They note that shooting does and reducing the total number of deer in an area can have an immediate impact on available food and habitat. Less overall pressure on available nutrients can help bucks achieve better physical condition as the rut approaches. Healthier bucks can lead to more successful breeding and therefore better hunting during the rut, since bucks stay active and on the search for does.

One of the most notable benefits of antlerless harvest anytime of the season is helping to achieve a more even buck/doe ratio in your hunting area. Not only does that mean more available nutrients for the herd, but it can result in a more condensed rut and a more even fawn drop.

A condensed rut means more does are bred in a tighter time window, leading to fawns that drop in a narrower timeframe next spring. This can reduce the impact of predators and cut down on the number of late-born fawns.  Late-born fawns, specifically buck fawns, are at high risk of facing developmental challenges that can take up to three years to overcome.

Wildlife officials in Oklahoma and some other states are putting a priority on doe harvest this season. The National Deer Association says that when there is a doe-harvest goal to be met, don’t delay. Use any opportunity to kill does early in archery or muzzleloader seasons. Here are some more good reasons why you should.