We are all looking for that big old nasty buck picture when checking our trail camera's, right? Ripping through the doe photos just anticipating seeing some big antlers on the next photo. Nope, not this time, maybe during the next set. Hold on a minute! Check out the ladies. When temps drop and testosterone levels rise, these girls are going to be as good as gold.
It may not sound as fun and fill you with anticipation, but learning about the ladies in your area is definitely key. For many reasons. The first and most important is management. Not only is it fantastic to have does in your immediate area you also have to keep them in check. We hunt in a state with a poor buck to doe ratio, so, keeping the doe numbers in check is a great tool to personally managing your hunting grounds. If you are experiencing an abundance of does, fill the freezer. Many areas offer extra antler less tags and if you got the does don't be afraid to harvest what you feel is adequate for your grounds. By doing so you are increasing the competition for a hot doe, which in return, will get the bucks cruising more. Look at it this way, if every buck had a doe or two for themselves the competition for reproduction would decrease. I know you're probably thinking taking a doe or two wont affect the big picture, but it really does help. Concentrate on your grounds and do what you can within your power to make it the best you can.
Another great reason for learning the ladies is, yep, here it comes, if you want a buck, hunt the does. So cliche, I know. Oh so very true though. Having a couple small family groups is critical. Does tend to have tighter home ranges than bucks which is good news. Most of us don't have hundreds of acres to hunt so this really helps us out. During your camera sets make sure to take note as to where your does are bedding and which routes they are taking as food sources change throughout the season. Find them, learn them, and stay away from them! Especially as the season progresses and daylight hours shorten. The females are what makes the breading seasons what they are. The only reason the bucks get so crazy is, indeed, because of the ladies. Bucks running around possessed like a mad man are looking for the does, obviously. So, if you have what they want and what they're looking for you're one, make that two, steps ahead of them. Be where they want to be, not where they are looking to be.
One of my favorite reasons for studying up on the does in the area is that it makes you a down right better archer. Learning our prey is what we do as archers. Anything and everything helps us. Learning the habits of a big old pot bellied doe is no cake walk either my friends. Realistically, when you're hunting a big nasty buck you're not hunting whats on top of his head, you're hunting whats in his head. A doe with some age on her is no different. Its challenging and improves your bag of tricks, why wouldn't you? Map the does just the same as you do the bucks. Also, if the season is nearing its end and you haven't filled your tag with a buck you would truly be happy with, shoot a doe! Don't settle for a young buck just because it has antlers. You can't eat the antlers anyways! I would rather give that young buck the chance to grow into something great instead of having another basket rack laying on your garage floor. There is no shame in filling tags with does. In my eyes, it means you are a more disciplined hunter who sticks to his or her game plan. Letting young bucks walk is honorable and filling tags with does is a whole lot tastier than a tag sandwich.
This archery season try giving the ladies a bit more attention. I promise, you will become a better archer, all the way around. Your freezer will be full along with your bellies. Learning the does in a given area will become as addictive as anything. Familiarize yourself with not only your key prey but also the ones he interacts with and the lands they inhabit. Lady luck may just lead you to the grand daddy.