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Now that we’ve covered the major causes of “doe factories,” while hopefully exploding the myth that offering a surplus of overwinter, spring, summer and early fall nutrition ISN’T the cause. It’s most often either improper property lay out, high impact hunting pushing deer away or neighboring grounds offering the daylight core areas and bedding opportunities that mature bucks seek out at a superior level than can be found on the “doe factory” grounds.
That begs the question, what can we do about it/how can we hold mature bucks on the same ground that offers a high doe population? This may not be “sexy,” but my approach to having both is to focus on the does and essentially ignore the bucks. Going deeper, go back and reread the section on doe and buck bedding in the last Bonus Tip of the Week. You’ll find the key right there.
Because family groups place a higher importance on convenience than mature bucks, use that to your advantage by stacking the family group bedding in areas that work for you (locations that helps your hunting, not increases the impact by making it so the family groups are busting you getting in and out) AND works for Mr. Big by keeping them out of the areas he wants to bed.
For those of you that have purchased White-tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvement, go back and look at all those real world plans I included. When doing so, pay particular attention to where the doe bedding areas were constructed. They vary from plan to plan, as the habitat varies from property to property. That said, you will notice the pretty strong trend of the family groups being packed around the food sources, just far enough off so that we can get in, walk through (if required) and get out of that food plot without the bedded deer seeing or likely hearing us (one still has to worry about wind direction).
As important, look where they AREN’T. With each passing year, I find I make fewer and fewer buck beds. I’ll put my success rate up against anyone when it comes to building a bed and getting a buck to bed in it, ASSUMING it’s a location where mature bucks naturally would want to bed anyway. In the areas I try to force them to bed, where they naturally aren’t drawn to already, my success rate is absolutely pitiful.
There are a few situations where making buck beds is very helpful, such as when an otherwise premium bedding location is choked out by stem count or debris. I’d even go so far as to believe it does help a little to improve those spots mature bucks are already bedding, as it’s possible to enhance them to the point where Mr. Big may possibly bed there a bit more than otherwise. The catch is that he is likely already bedding there, anyway, and there are sooooooooooooooo many other projects that are soooooooooooooo much more beneficial that I just don’t see doing so as important enough to invest limited time into something that’s already working. So, I simply leave those areas alone.
For those of you that don’t have White-tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvement, attached are 3 images I just grabbed from the web. I used transparent red to show the areas I’d scout for existing buck bedding. Assuming those areas either already were bedding areas or looked promising AND I felt they “work” with/can be made to “work” with the plan or I needed more buck bedding, I’d likely leave most of those areas alone for the bucks.
Depending on topography &/or cover, I try to keep doe bedding around 100 or more yards from buck bedding. I also try to make it so the does are stacked between the food and the bucks, so they won’t be walking through his bedroom a couple times a day. Taking that approach, you can stack a very high % of the does around the food, with hinge cutting, warm season grasses (Kurt Meyers, your proposed warm season grass planting does sound too small to likely hold bucks, but it may work very well for expanding doe bedding and help get the does out of areas bucks want to bed….worse case, it gives the does a place to head when being chased by bucks, wasting more of their time on your ground. I can’t say for sure, without studying your ground, but, UNLESS you need those acres for food OR it messes up access & deer flow, it will likely help you) &/or spruce plantings for bedding sites, pulling them away from the areas bucks want for daylight core areas/bedding.
When it’s hunting pressure that’s driving them away, the answer is obviously changing how you access/depart/hunt that ground, making it so you are no longer literally driving them from their daylight core area on your ground (the obvious goal is for the neighbors to do that, while you’re tricking them into believing they’re safe on your grounds). I wish I could get into that more, but the particulars will be different for every property.
It gets trickier when it’s more alluring bedding/core area traits of neighboring ground pulling the bucks’ daylight activities away from your ground. When that’s the case, the first questions should be if it’s both practically possible and in your best interest to try to change that. Let’s face reality here. If you own 5-20, even a lot of 40s and some 120+ acre properties, getting Mr. Big to bed on that ground often doesn’t make sense. Frankly, on such limited acres, you’re often better off going heavy on the fall food, doe bedding or both, creating a buck trap, for when Mr. Big stops by for food or girls.
Assuming it does make sense to try to get mature buck bedding on your ground, you have to find a way to beat or at least compete with the neighboring grounds. No, it’s just not practical to try to recreate their swamp or ridge, if you have relatively flat or dry grounds, but you may be able to create a 10 acre stand of spruce (in areas with real winters) or warm season grasses (areas where snows won’t lay them flat). Neither will likely beat the neighbors’ ridges and swamps, but even sharing those daylight activities is a big step forward.
The reasons I invested a couple previous tips and a lot of words into describing what’s really going on/trying to explode the myth behind what creates these “doe factories” is that there is no way for me or anyone else to make a blanket statement on THIS one thing is everyone’s problem and doing THAT is everyone’s solution. It’s just not that simple.
There are 3 main causes (bad plans that spread does into the areas bucks want to bed, pressure driving bucks out and neighbors having bedding features better than yours), but many other less common factors at play, as well (a 4.5 yr old, 120″ bully that’s driving all the other bucks away, after velvet shedding, for example). Each requires a different solution. It’s up to the land manager (or whoever does the plan for you) to determine what the specifics are for your ground. Once you know the “why,” then one can determine if a solution is practical/in your best interests and what that best solution is.
One thing is for 100% certain. The idea that having high doe numbers outside of the breeding phase of the rut makes it so you can’t also have high buck numbers during the rest of the year is likely well intentioned, but is still pure nonsense.