Most hunters shoot does for meat toward the end of the season, but should you be harvesting one or two skinheads (legal limit) earlier in the fall?

Famous whitetail biologist Dr. Grant Woods says to consider this: “If does are removed during the first part of the season, usually before the rut, then there are fewer does for the bucks to expend energy on chasing, breeding, etc. In addition, the does harvested during the early season obviously won’t consume critical resources that the rest of the herd animals need to consume later during the winter months, when deer are often short of quality forage.”

Grant says, and I agree, that hunters that wait till the end of season to shoot does rarely meet their doe quota or management objective. The result can be too many deer on a property, which can quickly eat too much vegetation and degrade the habitat. “This is especially true if the primary food source on your mostly wooded land is native vegetation, not crops that are to be replanted the following year,” he notes.

Bottom line: In areas with heavy populations of whitetails, Dr. Woods advises to shoot some does as early in the season as legally possible.