Hunting as Population Control
The truth is that conventional deer hunting, also known as trophy hunting, doesn't lower the total deer population. This is because the goal of the trophy hunter is to kill mature male deer, or bucks (with large antlers), not female deer, or does. A single buck can breed with many does, as many as 20 in pen conditions [source: Bradley]. This means that even if you kill two or three bucks from the same breeding territory, the remaining bucks will pick up the slack.
Also, in many states it's illegal to shoot younger males -- also capable of breeding -- so the harvesting of mature bucks doesn't make a significant dent in the total deer population.
In fact, it can be argued that the selective harvesting of bucks can actually lead to increases in the overall number of deer [source: Alcorn]. Here's the logic: When breeding deer in a farm setting, the male/female ratio at birth is 1:1. That means that in a wild setting, where bucks and does experience the same natural pressures -- food scarcity, disease, non-human predators -- the ratio of male to female should also remain a relatively constant 1:1.
The targeted hunting of bucks throws off that ratio, creating situations where the estimated buck-to-doe ratio in the wild can get as high as 1:8 [source: Alcorn]. This skewed male/female ratio is important when winter arrives and food supplies in much of the country become scarce. Every year, a certain percentage of a deer herd will succumb to the winter die-off. It's nature's way of weeding out the weaker animals and maintaining a sustainable population [source: Richey].
If a herd enters the winter die-off with a male/female ratio of 1:1, then you'd expect it to emerge with the ratio more or less intact. The same is true for a herd with a ratio of 1:8. Let's say there's only enough food in the herd's territory to support 450 deer. In the 1:1 herd, 225 does and 225 bucks would live through the winter. In the 1:8 example, 400 does and only 50 bucks would survive.
When June rolls around, let's say the 1:1 herd produces an average of 1.4 fawns per doe (67 percent of mature does have twins), creating 315 new fawns [source: Bradley]. In the 1:8 herd, 1.4 fawns per doe will create a whopping 560 new fawns. In other words: fewer bucks means more females will produce more babies.
If trophy hunting isn't the most effective way to control deer population and reduce deer-car accidents, then what is? Keep reading to find out.