Buck, Doe, or Does it Matter?


The archery deer hunting season is right around the corner in my neighborhood.  As opening day approaches this Sunday, I am making my final preparations for deer season.  While I ensure my broadheads are sharp, I consider my entry to each hunting position.  While I trade my field points for broadheads and tune the sights, I review what I need to take with me into the field.  While I’m waiting to go to sleep, I mentally take my shot from different angles and ranges.  I decide which angles are “no shot” – those which are more likely to wound than kill.  The question behind all these things, though, is how do I judge whether to draw my bow on a particular deer?

The burning question every deer season

deer profileWhat is a “shootable” deer?  There are probably as many answers as there are hunters.  I think the answer depends on your priorities in hunting.  Some hunt for trophies, some to fill their freezers, still others some of both.  I think all of us would shoot that 180-inch trophy buck if the opportunity presented itself.  But would you shoot at a four year old doe?  Sometimes the answer changes as the season wears on.  If it’s getting late in the season and you haven’t been able to get a shot at that buck you were scouting all summer, or if he’s disappeared, you might relent and fill your tag with a doe.  Of course, this assumes the state you’re hunting in allows hunting does.  I know California does not, which I think is a mistake, but that’s another article for another time.

For me, it’s simple…I hunt for meat first, trophy last.  If that huge, mature buck shows up, I will absolutely take any ethical shot I can.  He isn’t why I’m there, though.  I’ll pass on a young buck to let him grow up, depending on what part of the season it is.  I’d rather take a more mature doe than a young buck.  Because I already have the needed equipment, it’s economics for me – I can take a deer for about 50 cents per pound.  If I get a 3-deer license, the price per pound drops to around 40 cents.  Either way, I get to thoroughly enjoy my time in the woods.

How about you?  What are your priorities when you’re out whitetail hunting (mule deer or blacktail, too)?  Let us know in the comments or on social media.