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Balancing The Deer Herd

You can generally take as many does as bucks in a healthy heard, but these days you need to be careful about shooting too many.

As a teenager in Texas in the 1950s, I quickly learned I shouldn’t shoot does. That was a standard no-no back in those days. But as it turned out, it also was bad advice — or at least incomplete.

In that era not long after World War II, deer-management efforts were still being aimed at restoring populations devastated by the overhunting abuses of the 19th century. The need to control deer numbers wasn’t even a significant concern in management when I was a kid. Several generations of hunters had grown aware of the need to let the herd grow.

Yet I also recall that just over a decade later I stood by an East Texas campfire, trying to convince members of a...

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