Deer & Deer Hunting

Older BUT WISHER

The well-being and performance of any deer population is driven by survival and reproduction. For female whitetails, in natural populations, both factors tend to change with age. In the past, old does were considered to be a drag on the population because they were thought to contribute few viable fawns and had no other conceivable value.

In many mammals, for one reason or another, females stop producing and/or fail to raise young late in life — a phenomenon referred to as reproductive senescence. However, very little is known about how advancing age affects reproductive performance in whitetail does.

Some researchers claim that maximum reproduction occurs in white-tailed does 3 to 7 years of age, then declines. If that were true, older does would have little or no reproductive value and should be selectively harvested.

However, as I explained in my initial article on this topic, I disagree with such thinking. My research with enclosure-confined deer and a review of the available literature (which until now has been

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