We are faced with this question almost every year.
It happens to everyone. A nice, mature doe walks in range. You set up your shot, when you notice more movement. Hoping it's a buck, you look, only to see fawns traveling with this doe. Do you still shoot? Will these fawns or yearlings survive without the supervision of the adult doe? Let's look at the facts.
Managing a deer herd is vital to the success of the species. Harvesting a doe from time to time is a vital part of herd management and maintaining a good buck to doe ratio. Does will also chase off young bucks throwing off the ratio. Which is a benefit of shooting does early in the season, which is also when a doe is most likely to travel with a fawn.
Ultimately, a fawn's survival depends on how reliant it is on its mother. A fawn is completely reliant on its mother until it can be weaned off of it's mother's milk. This occurs at roughly 70 days after its birth. In the United States a majority of fawns are born between late April and early July. So most fawns are hitting your food plots starting in July and, at the latest, September.
So while the above has been informative that doesn't answer the question. Should you turn that doe in the above scenario into jerky?
That depends on where you live. In most states, go for it. You earned it and should enjoy that doe and don't hesitate. Most hunting seasons are set to fall outside of that 70 day range where a fawn would need to nurse. So unless you live in the below states, congratulations on the venison.
States with Early Hunting Seasons
- Florida - Season opens July 30
- South Carolina - August 15
- Idaho - August 3
- Nebraska - September 1
- Wyoming - September 1
- Kentucky - September 1
- Montana - September 3
- North Dakota - September 4
What if you do live in one of the listed states? You aren't out of luck you just have to be more careful. Now some of the more Southern states will have their fawns drop early so you're still probably safe. Really what it comes down to is does that fawn have spots? If yes, let it walk if you want that fawn to survive. If the fawn doesn't have spots take the shot.