Question: “I just received permission to a new South Texas ranch located just outside of Kingsville, Texas. The property owner gave me all the hunting rights to the place and placed the whitetail deer management in my hands. The ranch is 900 acres in size, but 100 acres will be planted to wheat later this week. That field will make serve as a great winter food plot. I have been seeing about 25 doe every time I drive through the ranch and corn the roads.
From my casual observations, there seem to be many more does than bucks. Most of the South Texas properties I have been on in the past have about the same number of bucks and does, but this place is skewed. Because of this, I am thinking about letting my friends and family harvest a few does this season, as well as guiding hunts off the ranch. How many does would you take off this ranch without effecting the buck to doe ratio?”
Answer: First, congrats on getting access to what sounds like some great hunting property. South Texas is known for good deer and with proper deer management I have no doubt that you will see the results. The buck to doe ratio is important on a property, but so is the total number of deer. For example, a 1:1 buck to doe ratio would be ideal in your situation, but this will not help you if there are too many animals for the habitat.
My first recommendation for this ranch would be to start collecting data and writing it down. The daylight deer sightings should be documented. In addition, get a deer spotlight survey line in place and start counting. Even just two survey runs (nights) combined with your daylight counts will give you enough herd information to make deer management decisions for this year. A week’s worth of data collection will answer many of your questions and offer much more guidance.
With regards to your last question, “How many does would you take off this ranch without effecting the buck to doe ratio,” the answer is 0. Each and every doe you shoot WILL effect the buck to doe ratio, so you can’t shoot anything without moving the needle in one direction or the other. The general rule of thumb for South Texas ranches is to shoot 1 doe for every 100 acres. However, based on what you’ve written it sounds like you may have to shoot more does. Set some goals, conduct some deer surveys and put together a deer management plan. You need something to go by or you will just be shooting into the wind!