In this series, whitetail experts Craig and Neil Dougherty of North Country Whitetails  will share journal entries from their lives as 365 day a year whitetail hunters and managers. There isn’t a day that goes by that the Doughertys aren’t living and breathing whitetails, and this series will follow their observations from the field, their successes in the woods, a few off topic interludes, and everything in between. A true deer hunting diary. Enjoy! – MK

By Craig Dougherty

I hunted does last weekend. It was the opening day of gun season here in NY and the gun opener is when we try to take all the does we can and fill the freezer. This year we are trying to take around a dozen to keep the population under control here at Kindred Spirits. The coyotes haven’t been too tough on us so we have to take out about 25% of the resident does to keep the herd numbers constant.

The night before the hunt our gang was pumped up on the mission. Sure we were still hunting bucks, but no one was about to pass a good shot at a doe in hopes of a shooter buck. Our guys know the importance of keeping deer numbers in check and they know how to do it. They also know the value of feeding their families with home grown venison. That’s what makes for a good camp and a well managed property

When harvesting does, we are all about single shot kills and short blood trails. That means precise shot placement (high on the shoulder) and dropping them where they can easily be removed from the woods. It means taking your time and getting it right and it means being proud of getting the job done with precision and effectiveness. It also means hunting them on the fringes of the property and staying away from core areas.

By noon the skinning shed was hung heavy with meat for the freezer. Neil was the skinner, Ryan the gutter and Craig and Steve were the cutters. It was a regular processing factory and spirits were high. Nothing lights up a deer camp like a shed full of hanging deer—-and, not a buck among them.

Thinking about it, it was probably the most important deer hunt the year; we were taking care of our families and our beloved Kindred Spirits at the same time. It’s a mission that we accept with enthusiasm and satisfaction knowing we have done our part to preserve the natural order of things. The bucks can come later, or maybe wait till next year. For now, it’s mission accomplished.

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