View Full Version : Taking does with fawns

December 12, 2008, 08:57 AM
I was out last week and saw two different whitetail does, each with two fawns. They were weaned but still following their moms around like little kids, watching and learning.

I can take two whitetail does but didn't shoot either of those. My thinking is that the fawns, even though they were nearly grown, still had a lot to learn about survival from their mother.

Am I wrong about that? Should I shoot a doe that still has last years fawns following their mom around or should I not?

December 12, 2008, 09:23 AM
I can't vote! I go both ways on this call and not only the hollow freezer is important to me... If the doe is a little scrawny gal she may be weak in genetics and needs culled just like a buck and if she is a honkin huge slob doe she is packin a ton of meat around. If the fawns are obviously big enough to wean then I may make a tougher quarry out of that fawn if he hears a boom and momma falls over :cool:dead... Tough call I can only make when I see her and the young..

December 12, 2008, 10:26 AM
I won't shoot a doe with fawns.

December 12, 2008, 11:12 AM
The ethics of hunting is to kill ethically and to kill only what you can eat/use and nothing more.

By killing a doe with fawns will likely result in the fawns not surviving.

December 12, 2008, 11:20 AM
Any of the three will do. A yearling is equipped with the tools of survival and it will still belong with the gregarious group of does with yearlings. If I see a doe with three yearlings I will take one of the young to take some of the stress of the mother. Veniveal is plastic fork tender.

December 12, 2008, 12:32 PM
Since you could have killed both Does it don't sound as if they were very good teachers for the fawns. My advice to you is, if you need the MEAT fire away, if you don't, let them walk.

Brian Pfleuger
December 12, 2008, 12:36 PM
By killing a doe with fawns will likely result in the fawns not surviving.

At least in my area this is only true if they get themselves shot. There are few, if any, natural predators and fawns still nursing during hunting season are rare indeed. The vast majority no longer need their mother for survival, beyond learning to stay away from hunters which, if I'm deciding whether or not to shoot HER, they are obviously not learning well anyway.

December 12, 2008, 02:04 PM
I may make a tougher quarry out of that fawn if he hears a boom and momma falls over dead...

A couple of years ago a nice plump doe came out of the trees near me and I shot her. The her fawn came out of the trees, saw her running and followed her. I hadn't realize the fawn was there. I sort of had to shoo the little one away when I got to the doe. The next morning a big buck came out of almost the same spot in the trees and there was that fawn following the buck.

If I see a doe with three yearlings I will take one of the young to take some of the stress of the mother.

I wondered about adoption. In at least one case both fawns seemed to belong to the doe because the doe had a bunch of black hair on her head and in a stripe down her back to the tip of her tail and both fawns had the same mark. The other doe and fawns were just plain reddish brown all over like I would expect a whitetail to be.

BTW I chose not to shoot any of them. I'm hoping to meet up with them again in a few years.

December 12, 2008, 02:12 PM
In this area it is rare for a doe not to have fawns, whether you see them or not. The rut tends to get them scattered around a bit. I have passed on a doe during bow season because the fawns were simply to young. But, even if you do kill the doe the fawn's biggest enemy in this area is a car.

December 12, 2008, 02:16 PM
Can't do it...:)

December 12, 2008, 02:19 PM
The fact of the matter is that if a doe has a fawn late in the season, the fawn will likely not survive the winter either way - With or without its mommy. I dont typically shoot a doe with a young deer, but if my freezer were empty and it was the end of season....Hmm - Take the doe or if I have two permits, take them both! (just kidding about both!)

December 12, 2008, 03:56 PM
Does chase away buck fawns when the rut starts to prevent the little runts from trying to breed them.

Ever wonder why every time you see a lone fawn it's a buck? Or why when you see a group of fawns, they are all bucks? I read a study that concluded because of this that if you wanted to increase the number of bucks in your area, the best thing you could do was shoot the does.

The reason being is that fawns are stupid little creatures without a lot of experience. When the does drive them away, they are driven into unfamiliar territory and they don't have any of the hiding places that their mother's showed them before they were expelled. This greatly increases the likelyhood that they will fall victim to hunters, predators, and autos.

So, if you want to increase the survival rate of young bucks, kill the does.
The fawns will survive.

December 12, 2008, 06:05 PM
By killing a doe with fawns will likely result in the fawns not surviving.

This late in the season??? No way. We aren't talking about fawns still draggind the placenta. By now, they are 5-6 months old. They aren't fawns anymore, we coincider them yearlings. They will be just fine. If that were the case, with as many folks that do shoot the doe, deer numbers wouldn't be steady climbing.

I'll shoot the doe everytime. By now, they are nothing but smaller, younger, more tasty deer.

Like someone else said about the yearling bucks, they still seem to survive. But the reason behind killing the doe wasn't for the safety of the buck. The primise behind killing the doe with a yearling buck is so the buck will stay in your area. Yearling bucks have been tracked up 17-18 miles from their birthplace after weening from mamma. The average was like two miles that they traveled away. So, most of the bucks that are on your property, may have never been born there. They have come from surrounding areas.

December 13, 2008, 08:38 AM
For me it depends on what stage of fawn it is. We need to occasionaly thin out does' here to keep the numbers down. Our climate here is not bad in comparison to other places so weather is not a problem and they travel around for the most part in herds. If the fawn is out of spots and good sized, I will consider shooting the doe, but most of the time I find does without fawns. Depends on the year too. Changes all the time around here for what ever the reason.

December 13, 2008, 08:52 AM
I've shot the doe in this situation, and I've shot both the doe and the yearling too. I see no ethical problem. Just like I will shoot a female ground hog with a rifle then her little ones with a pistol, them little one eat pretty good.

Art Eatman
December 13, 2008, 08:53 AM
Opinions: If you have so many deer that "thinning" is needed, the deer have pretty much become "rats with hooves". When culling, you take whatever's handy. About the only ethics involve the usual clean kill and butchering.

When actually hunting, I generally prefer to pass on a doe that has fawns still hanging around. If there are enough does around that it's appropriate to shoot one, there's most likely one or more without fawns...

December 13, 2008, 01:04 PM
It's a judgement call for me as well. This year I shot a doe then her fawn stood up out of the tall grass. I would have passed had I seen that the fawn was there, the fawn looked real small. In our area when you get a doe draw they add two licenses for a total of three tags, deer are numerous in our area.

I would prefer to take a doe without a fawn but I will shoot one that has a fawn if I feel that it is a good kill.


December 13, 2008, 01:09 PM
Art, that puts it more in in line with my thinking and is, just not put that way.

December 13, 2008, 01:27 PM
I would pass on taking the shot. Ethically, I think its the right thing to do.

However, as Art mentioned, if the heard needs to be culled, it needs to be culled and I have no issue if any one took a doe that had a fawn.

December 13, 2008, 01:40 PM
by the time hunting season is in, the does are old enough to survive on thier own, and usually another doe will "adopt" the fawn.

December 13, 2008, 02:01 PM
What I will note is that with our mild winters or whatever, you will see spotted fawns nearly all year long. Buck will mate whenever possible. Familiar???? Rut is different.

December 13, 2008, 02:45 PM
As usual there is no one size fits all that will work for all areas. Here in NC the number of does in heat will peak about the first half of November, if they are not successfully bred they will come in heat again in December. So, you can have fawns in the fall that are a month or more younger than others. If they still have spots in bow season they were part of the second rut. Regardless, their chance of survival is excellent with or without the doe. Hunters don't want to kill the little critters and the winter is not going to get them. And yes, if the next twenty years is anything like the last twenty we are on a collision course with over population. There was about forty in a ten acre bean field about a mile from the house last night. If I decide not to take a doe with a fawn it is for sentimental reasons and I don't try to make any logic out of it.

December 13, 2008, 03:22 PM
Even if it is the last day of the hunt and my freezer is empty, I won't shoot a doe with a fawn, or a cow with a calf. Partly due to how I was taught when hunting with my grandpa, and partly, I guess I don't want to shoot the momma when she is still caring for her young.

December 13, 2008, 03:38 PM
I have let countless does walk when followed by fawns. Great ethical call on your part!

December 13, 2008, 04:50 PM
A fawn is not a yearling, but many a yearling will still follow around with the momma. I will not shoot a doe with a fawn, but won't hesitate to shoot one with a yearling hanging around.

December 13, 2008, 09:02 PM
My question to those that won't shoot the doe:

At what point will you be able to shoot a doe? You see a doe with two yearlings. You don't shoot. Next year when that same bunch comes thru, Last years big doe has 1-2 more yearlings with her. But her two offspring are now with her. Obviously more mature than last year. So you shoot one of the ones from last year. Now eliminating the continued breeding after the big doe dies.

What about if you see a Big doe, two yearlings, and a last years yearling doe? Do you shoot the big doe, obviously the yearlings are hers, or the smaller mature doe? Hampering the deer herd?

I just do not understand the logic.

December 13, 2008, 09:49 PM
In my area the game wardens give interviews on the local news shows and for the newspaper, asking hunters to please shoot does. And they have a big writeup every year in the fish and game law handbook. I try to follow their advice, killing at least one to two does for every buck I bring home. My lifetime ratio is about 60-70% does.

If there are spotted fawns with a doe in December it means that there are serious imbalances in the herd sex ratio so that does are getting bred very, very late in the season. It also probably means that there is a serious overpopulation problem. This leaves the hunter in a quandary, how do they reduce the deer herd without killing the does? Chances are that winter kill and coyotes will remove the problem away from human sight but I've got to admit that if the herd was so unbalanced that I saw spotted fawns in December I'd probably call in a report to the game warden and ask for advice.

If there are brown fawns they may be does or they may be bucks which haven't reached the point where the doe drove them away. These little bucks are a problem. If one shoots a "little doe", especially in poor light they have a 50-50 chance of it being an antlerless buck. This means that the only way to be sure to maintain sexual balance is to harvest mature does. By mid December if you see lactating does there is a population problem even if the fawns are brown.

What about does who have a single brown fawn? This is a bad sign but not as bad as late season spots. It means that either does are subfertile - a product of poor nutrition and overcrowding - or one of the fawns has died. Seeing one or two does with only one fawn isn't a pattern but if you see a lot of them it may mean overpopulation or herd imbalance.

When I shoot does I tend to shoot the ones with yearlings and not those with this year's brown fawns but I will shoot a yearling if I can definitely see it has no buttons. So far I've never taken home a button buck but then I pass up a lot of shots. I tend to pass up shots if I see a very young brown fawn hanging with the doe, but in my part of the world you usually see antlerless deer in groups of 5 to 10 so it is easier to choose your shots. I've been passing up shots myself this year because I'm seeing mostly single immature bucks and small groups of does, not the big groups of previous years.

So I've gone around the world here and not said much. Maybe you should call your local game warden for advice? They could tell you how healthy is your local herd.

December 13, 2008, 10:16 PM
They are not fawns during hunting season.Yes they have alot to learn,But in public land where I hunt.We don't get them every year.There're still smart little suckers,don't kid yourself. I would fry a yearling deer like any buck,in my frying pan.I love venison, and that is that.Although four does came in my area this year.I waited for the biggest one.But ,yes I DO turn down yearling does when I can.The last day of hunting,if your brown your down.Just kidding Jay!!!

December 13, 2008, 10:20 PM
I just do not understand the logic.

There is no logic behind what they're thinking, they would be sad if someone shot their mother, so consequently the yearling would be sad and maybe not survive without mommy, its more emotion based nonsense.

The question is do you need meat or not? Does aren't trophy animals they are strictly for meat as far as I am concerned. You know for that matter, if meat is the object, I might shoot the yearling depending on what size it was, they are some nice tender eating.

Quickdraw Limpsalot
December 14, 2008, 12:28 AM
Shoot the doe. Then shoot the fawn. :D

They're all yearlings by modern firearm season 'round here anyway.

Simon Templar
December 14, 2008, 02:54 AM
Regardless of the current state of my freezer, I have yet to be so hungry as to even consider shooting the doe. No sense to it.


December 14, 2008, 04:04 AM
Simon, Please don't consider this directed at you only...
Everyone who feels does or does with young are off limits I have to ask... WHY?
Do you only shoot buck rabbits? Squirrels (yeah I know you shake the tree and listen for the nuts to rattle)? How about doves? As for the offspring, I think it is only the heart breaking thought since you see the fawn... But I am never sure if the animals I shoot have offspring depending on either parent back at the nest... With many of our game animals the parents both are needed to provide for the young... doves and squirrels are just 2 I can think of. Life is tuff... even tuffer for prey animals. If their side mounted eyes aren't enough to keep them alive, I am not going to lose sleep over it.

December 14, 2008, 06:30 AM
I will not shoot a doe that has fawns. Passed up a doe in mid October that was with two fawns that still had spots. The next day I passed up another doe that had a fawn. Hunted 7 more days and got a buck.

December 14, 2008, 08:36 AM
I agree, with fawns no, but yearlings-thats a different story. How many times has a doe been taken with fawns that are not seen?

December 14, 2008, 12:02 PM
I think that some of the sentiments I see expressed here adequately explain why the deer are so overabundant that they're being killed off by diseases, cars and starvation. Starvation doesn't care how happy Bambi is when he dies.:(

December 14, 2008, 01:17 PM
The purpose of Hunting Seasons on whitetail deer is to help control the population of these animals. By letting these pass you probably caused more harm than good. Figure at an increase of two deer, per deer,per year and in two or three years you have A whole Herd.

December 14, 2008, 01:28 PM
I attended a Southeastern Deer Study conference years ago where the wildlife manager of a large Texas ranch presented a study of yearling survival without does. Does and fawns were radio collared then the does were harvested during hunting season. There was no effect on yearling survival when the does were removed. After apologies to the audience he showed a film of the doe harvest. there are times we know we should not want to do something but being strapped in the door of a helicopter with a shotgun and chasing running deer did look like fun.

December 14, 2008, 10:12 PM
you will see spotted fawns nearly all year long.

These aren't spotted fawns. They are last years fawns. Weaned as far as I can tell.

December 15, 2008, 10:14 AM
you will see spotted fawns nearly all year long.

not around here. I wonder if it could be Axis Deer you are seeing.

.41 rem mag fan
December 15, 2008, 01:49 PM
Around here, fish and game can't give away all the doe permits they want used. In a state with a healthy elk herd and many large bucks running around, I think the management tool of harvesting does is way under utilized. I have no facts to prove this, other than seeing hundreds of dead deer on the side of the road all year long :mad:

Alfalfa, corn, grass fed does taste pretty good too :D

December 15, 2008, 03:23 PM
I know a lot of people who will not shoot a doe, and I think I know the reason...

I'm a better cook than them!:)

December 15, 2008, 08:38 PM
Anyone who refuses to shoot does needs to be aware that regardless of what they do or don't do the blue tongue disease (http://www.deerhuntersclub.com/articles/blue-tongue-disease/) may wipe out their entire herd next summer if winter kill (http://www.wardcameron.com/Articles/winter_kill.htm) doesn't do it in February.

I won't put a link up to the anti-civil-rights group "Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting" but they post information on their website that it is their belief that sport hunting produces increased winter kill in deer by creating abnormal sex ratios, i.e. killing off the bucks and leaving the does to breed. Obviously sport hunting doesn't increase winter kill but hunting bucks only doesn't reduce it. The only way to reduce winter kill is by removing does from the herd.

December 15, 2008, 08:42 PM
I wouldn't shoot a doe with fawns! I think that's a cruel thing to do! I would say that the only way I would do that is if I really and truly needed it for food, and nothing else! Striking a creature down that is trying to teach or protect their young ones just isn't right to me!

Dr. A
December 19, 2008, 10:50 AM
My son shot a fawn last year. If they are with their mother, they can easily be mistaken for a yearling even if they are fawns of this year. Our smallest fawn this time of the year is about 90#, and it is very easy for them to survive the winter without Mom. My son's big weanling last year weighed in at 110#.

I shot a doe in early October during bow season and saw both "fawns" just the other day. Getting by easily without Mom. They have continued to grow, and look as if they are thriving. All this on a farm with many deer, alfalfa, and milo.:)

December 20, 2008, 09:36 AM
As I mentioned before, if you see spotted fawns this late in the season it probably warrants a call to the local game warden to assist in decisionmaking as to how aggressively hunters should go out of their way to harvest does. Late fawns mean serious problems with an overpopulated deer herd. Or should I have said catastrophic problems?

As others have said, once they have been weaned this years fawns are hardy creatures capable of surviving on their own.

December 20, 2008, 05:05 PM
While bowhunting this year i had a doe and i big fawn walk under the stand. I had and arrow nocked and drew back twice but cudn't shoot. Not that i have nething against killing for food but after watching the fawn frolick around and play while the doe watched i decided that i wasnt that hungry and that i would feel better about myself if i waited and killed something else.

December 20, 2008, 06:41 PM
I may be a little different, but I would have taken the yearlings. I have no problem with taking the doe either. As said, by this time they are not fawns. A 70#+ yearling is the best table fare in the woods. If you have never feasted on a yearling, you are really missing out. Try it and you will never ask the question again.

December 20, 2008, 07:18 PM
So, I passed on a few does with young'uns this year so far. After reading and doing a little research myself. I decided that any doe that comes my way gets it!

My main concern was the survivability of the fawns (none of that emotional garbage :eek:). By everything I have read. shows they will live.

Anyway, I head back to my truck and hear a ruckus when I reach it. "Hmm..." I thinks to myself....."what yonder ruckuses my way?"

Sho 'nuff a MASSIVE doe comes charging out of the woods not 20 yds away and makes a hard right. I whistle to it like its my yellow lab and it stops.

I shoulder me trusty Tactical Assault Sniper Savage 10FPLE in 308 with a 20"bbl, put the crosshairs on the sweetspot.

BANG! Where'd it go!? Dropped it!

What happened to my doe? Why is this 70lb button buck laying here on the ground?

And i was gonna shoot a doe.......Oh well, meat in the freezer;)

December 21, 2008, 11:04 PM
4yrs ago i had 3 tags, it was horible weather, and out walks a large doe and 2 fawns. guess what went to the truck with me?
thats right all 3. a deer is a deer is a deer. they are all tasty!