How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

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How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby stash59 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:27 am

Probably not as many as you'd think! Plus notice I said dominant buck. Not always the oldest or buck with the best genetics.

Now lot's of things can affect this. Density, buck-doe ratio, pressure from predators/hunting, etc.

So let's say the dominant buck breeds his first doe on October 23, which may be pretty early in alot of areas. Then the last about Dec 31. So let's give him 70 days. The experts say a buck will hang with a doe 2 days before and 2 days after the day she peaks in her estrous. So that's 70 divided by 5. Which would be 14. Or 17 if you figured every 4 days instead.

Of course we all know nothing in nature is that organized/perfect. Real low deer density areas you may only get half that number at best. But even in real high deer density areas that number may not go up alot. Especially if the buck to doe ratio is close to or better than 1:3. The experts indicate that a buck only has a given amount of testosterone in his body each fall. The harder they rut the quicker they use up their testosterone. So will a hard rutter use up his testosterone well before the end of December. Or would he end up needing to rest 2 to 3 days at some point? How often?

Not sure how any of this would effect how we'd approach our hunts. Likely would have more to do with a buck passing down his genetics. Plus this is just me thinking/wondering about this. I've personally never seen any scientific studies on this. So share if you have. Just interested to see if y'all have any thoughts on this. And how it may affect your choices/plans for hunts.


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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby Kraftd » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:15 am

Interesting to contemplate. To me it also further highlights the misconception that culling inferior bucks does anything to genetics in a wild herd. A bruiser can't magically breed 60 does if a 75" three year old 8 gets shot out from under him. More likely those does just don't get bred.


I hunt one very high doe density spot, and the last few years we have seen a lot of small fawns in hunting season. I kind of figure that the bucks aren't getting to all of the does during the traditional rut and there is more December breeding going on. We have also had a hard time getting on truly mature deer on this property the last coupe of years, and I think its because they just don't have to look for their next doe at all. I got close on a mature buck last year hunting known buck bedding pre-rut, but usually we would historically, see a few non-local big boys cruise through too, and tat wasn't the case on cams the last few years.

Like you said, not sure how to parlay any of this into more success, but I know I will be questioning hunting cruisng spots in super high doe areas in the future.
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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby Sailfish_WC » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:24 am

I read a study not too long ago that showed the 1.5’-2.5’s are doing the bulk of the breeding.
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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby Boogieman1 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:24 am

Stash, my answer is based on guessing off what I've firsthand seen or heard by word of mouth so take it with a grain of salt. But short answer I would say a mature buck breeds 3-5 does a season where anything close to a managed herd exists. Believe the big daddy's get the first doe in the area.

After that I feel the 2s and 3s do the majority of the breeding. They will risk there neck for a piece of the honey pot where the mature buck won't completely throw caution to the wind. Much like a 20 year old guy bar hopping looking for a action risking DWI's and what knots. A guy in his 40s simply knows better and has perfected the game without the risk. By doing this and not burning up and down the strip they miss out on a lot of action IMO.

Believe once a bucks testosterone drops below a certain point he drops his antlers. So if u see a buck who shed way b4 the rest, I believe he did some serious pumping.
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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby Dewey » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:15 am

Lack of does around here so bucks have to take what they can get. :lol:

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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby Mschmeiske » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:19 am

:lol:
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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby cspot » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:17 am

HEre is one study. https://www.qdma.com/will-dominant-buck ... -breeding/

“Do a handful of bucks sire the majority of the fawns?”

This question is often followed with a series of questions, such as:

“If the dominant buck in my area has narrow antlers, will I start seeing more narrow-antlered bucks?”

Or…

“If someone shoots the dominant buck early in the season will it upset the rut?”

Or…

“If I have the same dominant buck for many years, will I have problems with inbreeding?”

These are all valid questions and ones I am sure most hunters have heard or thought about at some point. The premise behind these questions is the belief that a small number of dominant bucks breed the majority of does and thus sire the majority of fawns.

Biologists used to think large mature bucks dominated the breeding in deer herds similar to the way bull elk do. The idea was the largest individuals successfully defended all receptive does (does that are in estrous and ready to breed) from other would-be suitors. This idea seemed plausible, and it wasn’t until the advent of genetic testing that paternity assessments could be done. Research during the past few years has revealed a much different picture of what actually happens in the whitetail’s breeding world.

White-tailed deer have a different breeding ecology than elk. Elk form harems of cows that are guarded and bred by a single bull. The identity of the specific bull may change during the breeding season, but the individual bull in charge at the time when cows are receptive gets to breed the entire harem. This strategy allows a small number of bulls to breed a large number of cows.

Whitetails don’t form harems. Instead, bucks search for individually receptive does. It is not uncommon for a buck to court a doe for up to a day prior to her being receptive and then breed her repeatedly during the 24 to 36 hours she is in estrous. The buck then searches for another doe and repeats the process. Therefore, bucks that successfully breed may spend as much as 24 to 48 hours with a single doe before looking for another. Due to the time spent with an individual doe and because the majority of does in a balanced population are bred over a relatively short time frame, this strategy doesn’t allow bucks to monopolize the breeding.

Dr. Randy DeYoung’s article in Quality Whitetails explained this concept and documented through research that breeding is done by bucks of all age classes, irrespective of the herd’s age structure. Yearlings and 2½-year-olds even get in on the action on the King Ranch in Texas, where more than 50 percent of the bucks are 3½ years of age or older. Randy’s research also showed bucks that successfully breed do not sire many fawns. The most prolific buck in their studies only sired six fawns in a single year, and on one study site successful bucks averaged less than three fawns per year over an 11-year period. Anna Bess Sorin found similar results in a Michigan deer herd where 17 bucks sired 67 fawns for an average of 3.9 fawns per buck. Individual bucks sired anywhere from one to nine fawns in her study.

Dominant bucks don’t monopolize the breeding, and they don’t even sire all of the fawns from each doe they breed. Black bear biologists have known for years that a litter of cubs could easily have more than one father, but multiple paternity in whitetails is relatively new information. Randy and his colleagues were the first to report on this. Their study of captive deer revealed multiple paternity occurred in about 24 percent of compound litters. Approximately one in four sets of twins or triplets had two fathers! This means does are breeding with multiple bucks, which further clarifies that individual whitetail bucks do not monopolize breeding.

Anna Bess then documented the first cases of multiple paternity in free-ranging whitetails. She reported multiple paternity in 22 percent of twins, a percentage similar to Randy’s findings. She also noted bucks that jointly sired twins appeared to be at least one year apart in age (A word of caution, though: these deer were aged using tooth-wear criteria. Recent research suggests this technique can have an error factor of plus or minus at least one year for older age classes).

There are several explanations for the joint siring. Remember, bucks will repeatedly breed does during the 24 to 36 hours they are in estrous. It is plausible in cases of multiple paternity that a buck breeds a receptive doe and then gets displaced or run off by a larger, older or more aggressive buck while the doe is still receptive. The larger/older/more aggressive buck then breeds the doe, and the doe can have fawns sired by each of the bucks. The initial breeder may have been a young buck who was in the right place at the right time before getting displaced by an older buck, or he may have been the most dominant buck in the area but was “run down” from prior breeding activity and was displaced by a more aggressive animal. It is also possible for the doe to breed with other bucks. Behavioral observations and genetic studies clearly show all breeding sequences do not result in conception.

So where does this leave you and your management program? You need to recognize bucks of all age classes will breed does. This is good because it ensures genetic diversity and fitness. As long as adult sex ratios are relatively balanced, it also ensures most does are bred during their first estrous cycle. This timing is crucial to ensure that fawns will be born during optimal fawning dates the following spring – when natural forages for the nursing doe and the weaning fawn are abundant, and fawns have more time to grow before the onset of winter.

This doesn’t mean you can’t intensify the rutting activity in your area or minimize the number of does bred by young bucks. Older bucks generally make more rubs and scrapes, engage in more fights and increase the overall rutting activity in an area. These can all enhance the quality of your hunting experience. Fortunately, Randy’s and Anna Bess’s research also revealed that even though young bucks do some of the breeding, mature bucks do most of it in populations with good age structure. Their research showed bucks 3½ years of age and older sired 70 and 85 percent of fawns, respectively, in populations with reasonable age structure and sex ratios. Thus, all yearlings and 2½-year-olds collectively only sired 15 to 30 percent of the fawns. This is much better than when yearlings and 2½-year-olds comprise 80 to 90 percent of the buck population, such as under many traditional deer management programs, and would thus sire nearly all fawns. The physical and nutritional stress of actively participating in the rut no doubt has an impact on the health and future development of these immature bucks. Also, does appear to select mates based at least partially on age – older does tend to select older mates. If older bucks are not available, older does may spend more time unsuccessfully wandering and searching for them. They will breed with younger bucks but it is typically later in the fall.

So, is a dominant narrow-antlered buck going to create an abundance of narrow-antlered bucks in your area? Breeding strategy suggests not. Plus, about 50 to 75 percent of yearling bucks disperse 1 to 5 miles from their birth range. So, unless you control several thousand acres, many of the bucks born on your area end up somewhere else. If a dominant buck is taken early in the season or lasts several seasons, does this spell trouble for the herd? Again, breeding strategy suggests not. As managers we can’t control or even predict which bucks breed which does in the wild. Fortunately, deer evolved with a breeding ecology flexible enough to withstand the results of poor management on our part. That same breeding ecology produces exceptional results when we manage the deer herd wisely. Wise management includes a balanced adult sex ratio and a complete age structure for bucks and does. Passing young bucks is a great way to ensure there are bucks in all age classes, and even though mature bucks don’t breed all of the does, they do breed the majority of them.
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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby Edcyclopedia » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:21 am

Well if the buck is like me - AS MUCH AS ANIMALY POSSIBLE!
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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby timberninja » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:30 am

Dominant bucks don’t monopolize the breeding, and they don’t even sire all of the fawns from each doe they breed. Black bear biologists have known for years that a litter of cubs could easily have more than one father, but multiple paternity in whitetails is relatively new information. Randy and his colleagues were the first to report on this. Their study of captive deer revealed multiple paternity occurred in about 24 percent of compound litters. Approximately one in four sets of twins or triplets had two fathers! This means does are breeding with multiple bucks, which further clarifies that individual whitetail bucks do not monopolize breeding.

Anna Bess then documented the first cases of multiple paternity in free-ranging whitetails. She reported multiple paternity in 22 percent of twins, a percentage similar to Randy’s findings. She also noted bucks that jointly sired twins appeared to be at least one year apart in age (A word of caution, though: these deer were aged using tooth-wear criteria. Recent research suggests this technique can have an error factor of plus or minus at least one year for older age classes).

There are several explanations for the joint siring. Remember, bucks will repeatedly breed does during the 24 to 36 hours they are in estrous. It is plausible in cases of multiple paternity that a buck breeds a receptive doe and then gets displaced or run off by a larger, older or more aggressive buck while the doe is still receptive. The larger/older/more aggressive buck then breeds the doe, and the doe can have fawns sired by each of the bucks. The initial breeder may have been a young buck who was in the right place at the right time before getting displaced by an older buck, or he may have been the most dominant buck in the area but was “run down” from prior breeding activity and was displaced by a more aggressive animal. It is also possible for the doe to breed with other bucks. Behavioral observations and genetic studies clearly show all breeding sequences do not result in conception.


^^^^This, I just read about these studies and I had no idea that twins or triplets could be from different fathers. One set of triplets studied had 3 different fathers. Excellent information. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby Boogieman1 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:41 am

Dewey wrote:Lack of does around here so bucks have to take what they can get. :lol:

ECFF980C-E4CE-4E72-934C-3F4BB8400DA4.jpeg

Prison rules ehh... Believe that buck dropped his bar of Conquest soap while in the shower :shifty:
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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby Dewey » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:43 am

Boogieman1 wrote:
Dewey wrote:Lack of does around here so bucks have to take what they can get. :lol:

ECFF980C-E4CE-4E72-934C-3F4BB8400DA4.jpeg

Prison rules ehh... Believe that buck dropped his bar of Conquest soap while in the shower :shifty:

Safe to say the bottom buck used up all of his available testosterone. :doh:
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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby Tennhunter3 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:54 am

I would guess as many as he can. :lol:
Last edited by Tennhunter3 on Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby MN_DeerHunter » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:55 am

Dewey wrote:
Boogieman1 wrote:
Dewey wrote:Lack of does around here so bucks have to take what they can get. :lol:

ECFF980C-E4CE-4E72-934C-3F4BB8400DA4.jpeg

Prison rules ehh... Believe that buck dropped his bar of Conquest soap while in the shower :shifty:

Safe to say the bottom buck used up all of his available testosterone. :doh:


Who's to say that buck doesn't identify as a female deer? :D
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Re: How many does does a dominant buck breed each fall?

Unread postby stash59 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:33 am

cspot wrote:HEre is one study. https://www.qdma.com/will-dominant-buck ... -breeding/

“Do a handful of bucks sire the majority of the fawns?”

This question is often followed with a series of questions, such as:

“If the dominant buck in my area has narrow antlers, will I start seeing more narrow-antlered bucks?”

Or…

“If someone shoots the dominant buck early in the season will it upset the rut?”

Or…

“If I have the same dominant buck for many years, will I have problems with inbreeding?”

These are all valid questions and ones I am sure most hunters have heard or thought about at some point. The premise behind these questions is the belief that a small number of dominant bucks breed the majority of does and thus sire the majority of fawns.

Biologists used to think large mature bucks dominated the breeding in deer herds similar to the way bull elk do. The idea was the largest individuals successfully defended all receptive does (does that are in estrous and ready to breed) from other would-be suitors. This idea seemed plausible, and it wasn’t until the advent of genetic testing that paternity assessments could be done. Research during the past few years has revealed a much different picture of what actually happens in the whitetail’s breeding world.

White-tailed deer have a different breeding ecology than elk. Elk form harems of cows that are guarded and bred by a single bull. The identity of the specific bull may change during the breeding season, but the individual bull in charge at the time when cows are receptive gets to breed the entire harem. This strategy allows a small number of bulls to breed a large number of cows.

Whitetails don’t form harems. Instead, bucks search for individually receptive does. It is not uncommon for a buck to court a doe for up to a day prior to her being receptive and then breed her repeatedly during the 24 to 36 hours she is in estrous. The buck then searches for another doe and repeats the process. Therefore, bucks that successfully breed may spend as much as 24 to 48 hours with a single doe before looking for another. Due to the time spent with an individual doe and because the majority of does in a balanced population are bred over a relatively short time frame, this strategy doesn’t allow bucks to monopolize the breeding.

Dr. Randy DeYoung’s article in Quality Whitetails explained this concept and documented through research that breeding is done by bucks of all age classes, irrespective of the herd’s age structure. Yearlings and 2½-year-olds even get in on the action on the King Ranch in Texas, where more than 50 percent of the bucks are 3½ years of age or older. Randy’s research also showed bucks that successfully breed do not sire many fawns. The most prolific buck in their studies only sired six fawns in a single year, and on one study site successful bucks averaged less than three fawns per year over an 11-year period. Anna Bess Sorin found similar results in a Michigan deer herd where 17 bucks sired 67 fawns for an average of 3.9 fawns per buck. Individual bucks sired anywhere from one to nine fawns in her study.

Dominant bucks don’t monopolize the breeding, and they don’t even sire all of the fawns from each doe they breed. Black bear biologists have known for years that a litter of cubs could easily have more than one father, but multiple paternity in whitetails is relatively new information. Randy and his colleagues were the first to report on this. Their study of captive deer revealed multiple paternity occurred in about 24 percent of compound litters. Approximately one in four sets of twins or triplets had two fathers! This means does are breeding with multiple bucks, which further clarifies that individual whitetail bucks do not monopolize breeding.

Anna Bess then documented the first cases of multiple paternity in free-ranging whitetails. She reported multiple paternity in 22 percent of twins, a percentage similar to Randy’s findings. She also noted bucks that jointly sired twins appeared to be at least one year apart in age (A word of caution, though: these deer were aged using tooth-wear criteria. Recent research suggests this technique can have an error factor of plus or minus at least one year for older age classes).

There are several explanations for the joint siring. Remember, bucks will repeatedly breed does during the 24 to 36 hours they are in estrous. It is plausible in cases of multiple paternity that a buck breeds a receptive doe and then gets displaced or run off by a larger, older or more aggressive buck while the doe is still receptive. The larger/older/more aggressive buck then breeds the doe, and the doe can have fawns sired by each of the bucks. The initial breeder may have been a young buck who was in the right place at the right time before getting displaced by an older buck, or he may have been the most dominant buck in the area but was “run down” from prior breeding activity and was displaced by a more aggressive animal. It is also possible for the doe to breed with other bucks. Behavioral observations and genetic studies clearly show all breeding sequences do not result in conception.

So where does this leave you and your management program? You need to recognize bucks of all age classes will breed does. This is good because it ensures genetic diversity and fitness. As long as adult sex ratios are relatively balanced, it also ensures most does are bred during their first estrous cycle. This timing is crucial to ensure that fawns will be born during optimal fawning dates the following spring – when natural forages for the nursing doe and the weaning fawn are abundant, and fawns have more time to grow before the onset of winter.

This doesn’t mean you can’t intensify the rutting activity in your area or minimize the number of does bred by young bucks. Older bucks generally make more rubs and scrapes, engage in more fights and increase the overall rutting activity in an area. These can all enhance the quality of your hunting experience. Fortunately, Randy’s and Anna Bess’s research also revealed that even though young bucks do some of the breeding, mature bucks do most of it in populations with good age structure. Their research showed bucks 3½ years of age and older sired 70 and 85 percent of fawns, respectively, in populations with reasonable age structure and sex ratios. Thus, all yearlings and 2½-year-olds collectively only sired 15 to 30 percent of the fawns. This is much better than when yearlings and 2½-year-olds comprise 80 to 90 percent of the buck population, such as under many traditional deer management programs, and would thus sire nearly all fawns. The physical and nutritional stress of actively participating in the rut no doubt has an impact on the health and future development of these immature bucks. Also, does appear to select mates based at least partially on age – older does tend to select older mates. If older bucks are not available, older does may spend more time unsuccessfully wandering and searching for them. They will breed with younger bucks but it is typically later in the fall.

So, is a dominant narrow-antlered buck going to create an abundance of narrow-antlered bucks in your area? Breeding strategy suggests not. Plus, about 50 to 75 percent of yearling bucks disperse 1 to 5 miles from their birth range. So, unless you control several thousand acres, many of the bucks born on your area end up somewhere else. If a dominant buck is taken early in the season or lasts several seasons, does this spell trouble for the herd? Again, breeding strategy suggests not. As managers we can’t control or even predict which bucks breed which does in the wild. Fortunately, deer evolved with a breeding ecology flexible enough to withstand the results of poor management on our part. That same breeding ecology produces exceptional results when we manage the deer herd wisely. Wise management includes a balanced adult sex ratio and a complete age structure for bucks and does. Passing young bucks is a great way to ensure there are bucks in all age classes, and even though mature bucks don’t breed all of the does, they do breed the majority of them.


Thanx for sharing! Figured somebody had to have looked into this by now.

From my experience from living and hunting in Montana. I don't believe even the elk herds are breed by a just few bulls. Those pics of a large old bull with 50+ cows mainly come from places like Yellowstone. And even there a few cows get separated out and get breed by satellites.

To me even the numbers I crunched seemed high. Just common sense always told me that. Related does/doe family groups usually come into heat at about the same time each year. I believe the older ones come in 1st, but there has to be quite a bit of overlap amongst the younger age classes. Studies have shown that the peak of the breeding period is a fairly short time period. So there is no way even 2-3 bucks could be taking care of all of the breeding let alone 1.

I had read a Charles Alshiemer article on the multiple bucks breeding a single doe. With the resulting fawns being half siblings. So that wasn't a surprise. Plus I had heard about it with dogs. On a side note on this. I read a study, complete with pics. That was done by famed deer biologist John Oozoga. It showed does get breed and start out carrying 6-8, with as many as 12 embryos in them. As the fetuses grow and winter causes nutritional stress to the doe. A fetus will die and then be absorbed by the doe. To utilize the nutritional value from it. Thus sustaining the life of the doe and the remaining fetuses. It's obvious that most of the fetuses don't survive. Usually the oldest does started out with more fetuses. And it's proven out that usually it's an older doe that will birth 3 fawns on occasion. Sometimes more. I personally witnessed a doe that had 4 one year.

Something alot of hunters forget. The doe's genes have half of the say so as to what kind of rack it's buck fawns will end up with when grown up. So a smallish racked buck's genes may not always show up in it's offspring. Visa versa too, for a large antlered buck. Also just because a booner is living and breeding does on your land. Doesn't mean his B&C offspring will live there too. Like mentioned the 1 year olds get pushed out by momma in the spring, then the area's bachelor groups dominate them so much. They keep moving until they find a niche where there not always getting pestered.

Not alot hunting tactic wise from all of this. But I personally find it interesting.
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