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Hunting & FishingOwning Land

Improve Your Deer Hunting Property: The Importance of a Healthy Buck-to-Doe Ratio

April 17, 2024

When managing deer hunting land, landowners need to do all they can to improve game habitats and populations on their property. One aspect of managing game populations, especially in whitetail deer, that can often be overlooked is the importance of keeping an even ratio of bucks to does on your property. 

While it may require a landowner to shoot more does than they typically would, carefully observing and selectively shooting to create a 1 to 1 ratio of bucks to does can significantly improve the quality and quantity of bucks on a property down the line. During his recent appearance on the National Land Podcast, MS Land Professional Jimmy Riley outlined the importance of managing the gender ratio of deer on your property and the ways it will benefit hunters.

Here’s what to know!

How Does a 1-to-1 Ratio Improve Hunting?

One of the main ways that a healthy buck-to-doe ratio will improve hunting on a property is by creating more competition for mates among the bucks. Fewer available does on a property can lead to increased chasing and other mating behaviors which keep bucks more active than when there’s an abundance of available does to mate with. 

As a result of this increased competition, calling becomes significantly more effective as bucks are forced to search harder for a receptive doe. Increased chasing also means a higher chance of spotting bucks during the day, since most mating behaviors occur during the night. 

Riley spoke to this during his podcast interview, stating the following: “[A 1 to 1 Ratio] increases the competition for the does between the bucks. So when you have a 1 to 1 ratio, those bucks have to fight to establish territory, they’ll have to roam around to establish more territory. They’re bumping into one another because you’ve got more bucks on the property. 

When it comes time to find a receptive doe, they’ll have to roam around more because there aren’t as many out there as there used to be. So the bucks are roaming around more and that puts them out in the daylight a little bit more, there are more scrapes and rubs out there. You’ll wind up seeing a mature buck walking up into your food plot during the daylight.”

Managing Carrying Capacity

Every property, no matter how big or small, has a maximum carrying capacity or number of deer that it can support. Size and food supply are two of the most significant limiting factors determining the number of deer a property can support. By managing the buck-to-doe ratio on a property, landowners can increase the chances that the deer they spot during hunting season is the big monster buck rather than another doe. 

Explaining the importance of understanding carrying capacity on a hunting property, Riley stated, “Let’s say our ground can support one deer per 15 acres and we’ve got 1000 acres. You divide that out and that land will support 66 deer. Let’s assume you’ve got 1 buck for every 4 does, that’s going to yield 13 bucks on your property of 1000 acres. Now let’s do the same scenario, but with a 1 to 1 ratio. Now you’ve got 33 bucks on that same property. That’s huge, right? 

The main advantage of a 1-to-1 ratio is you’ll have more bucks on your property. And everyone wants the big, huge 150+ pound deer. How are you going to get that? Well, the more bucks you’ve got on your property, the better chance you’ve got of one of them becoming a 150 or better.”

How to Improve Buck-to-Doe Ratios on Your Deer Hunting Property?

Improving the buck-to-doe ratio on a hunting property takes a bit of planning/preparation before the hunting season comes along. By keeping a record of the number of deer spotted in a given area, say around a food plot, a landowner can get a general idea of the number of bucks and does currently on their property. 

With this information, landowners will know how many bucks and does they’ll need to shoot to bring the ratio on their property closer to 1-to-1. There are also programs available to landowners who are looking for some extra help, as Riley explained:

“You have to shoot the does. And how do you know how many to shoot? Well you can hire biologists or get onto your state’s Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) which won’t cost you anything, and they’re just as sharp as anybody else. So go with their recommendations, these DMAP biologists know what they’re doing and have studied deer and have all this data.”

It’s also important to keep in mind that neighboring landowners play a large role in effective game management since a lack of cohesive management between properties won’t yield the same results as a coordinated and cooperative effort. Riley echoed this, stating, “It takes effort, and you’re not going to change it on 300 acres. You need everybody around you to do the same thing and be on board. You can’t have one guy in the middle trying to shoot five different landowners’ shares of the does. Everybody needs to be on board. It takes a lot of work and it can be tough, but it’s worth doing it if you want to get the most out of your property.”

Through careful planning and managing buck-to-doe ratios, landowners can significantly improve the quality of deer populations and create a phenomenal hunting property. Proper hunting land management is essential for sustaining game populations and ensuring these animals will thrive on your property for years to come.

If you’ve got more questions about managing deer hunting land or finding the perfect buck-to-doe ratio, contact your local Land Professional today!

About the Author
Bryce Berglund is National Land Realty’s Content Marketing Specialist. He is currently residing in Minnesota, where he attended the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Bryce is an appreciator of all things artistic, and likes to spend time at his cabin with his dog and family.