5 Characteristics of Adult Does

5 Characteristics of Adult Does

Posted 2017-09-04T12:29:00Z  by  Tom Carpenter

Use This Checklist to Make Sure a Deer Is an Adult Doe

Learn how to avoid shooting fawns. (Shutterstock/Kat Grant Photography photo)

When it's time to fill an antlerless tag, most whitetail hunters want to do it with an adult doe. A mature deer will yield more venison. Biologists will tell you that taking her out of the herd does more for population control than removing any fawn. And due to their good size and bold nature, buck fawns are especially vulnerable to getting shot.

Come time to hunt, carry good binoculars to get a closer look. When you shoot a lone deer, without the benefit of other animals in the area to compare to, you always take the chance of killing a fawn instead of an adult doe. It's best to know before you pull the trigger.

As an antlerless whitetail approaches, study it up with this five-step checklist in mind before making your shoot or don't shoot decision.

Small Ears

Fawn's heads are small; but their ears are full-sized, and look big. A mature doe's larger head makes her ears - which don't keep growing - look relatively small compared to her head size.

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Long Nose

Fawns have short, stubby noses. Whitetail noses elongate with age, especially on does. Don't shoot a short-faced or small-headed deer.

Sizable Hindquarters

Study deer proportions. A buck fawn will be front-loaded - larger in the front shoulders than the hind legs. Adult females will be larger in the withers than the front shoulders.

Wide Body

Body height is a bad barometer for picking out an adult doe. Some buck fawns are as tall as their mothers by late fall; but the young males are lean. Doe fawns are just dainty. Look for wider deer if you get a front-on or back-on view.

Lead Deer

If a group of deer is traveling through, the lead deer will often be a mature doe. Start your review there. As an exception, the first whitetails bounding into a food plot or feeding field are often the young ones. Wait and see what else shows up.

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