If you, like me, do not consider shooting a doe with your bow to be somehow beneath you, the most sure-fire way I know of to put a doe in your sights during the early season is to use a fawn bleat call.
Blow the call with serious emotion. You are trying to sound like a fawn which is tangled up in a fence, or maybe being dragged down by coyotes. Any doe of breeding age within hearing range of that agonized bleating will usually come on the run to try to save the fawn in trouble. And it does not matter if the doe has her own fawn right with her or not, she will leave them to rush to the fawn in trouble. Evidently that maternal instinct is strong enough that it extends beyond the immediate family.
When a doe rushes to the rescue she comes in fast and extremely agitated. Often, I have had them dashing back and forth within easy range and never got a shot because they never stood still.
The best way to solve this problem is to put a doe decoy out in front of your stand. When a high-strung doe comes rushing into what she knows could be deadly danger for herself, the instant they spot that decoy, you can just see them calm down quite dramatically and they will usually then offer you a good shot at a stationary target. You can use any doe decoy you want. I use a Montana Doe Decoy just because it is so easy to carry and set up. In fact, I usually use two of them and set them so that a deer can see them no matter which direction it approaches from. During all other times of the season, I avoid using decoys in heavy cover where the deer has to be close before they ever see the decoy. I’ve spooked too many deer in those situations. But in the case of these maternal does rushing to the defense of a fawn in trouble, the decoys have a calming effect. I suppose the doe is just relieved to see another doe already on the scene.
One more tip: Before you ever blow on the call, make sure that you have your bow in your hand. Often a doe will arrive on the scene so quickly that you will not have time to get your bow off the hook. And because these does are super-alert and watching for any movement, which might indicate the source of the trouble, even slowly reaching for your bow may well attract her attention. With your bow in your hand and an arrow nocked, you can avoid being picked off.
This tactic works best during the first couple of weeks of the season, then it slowly becomes less and less effective. By October 15, it’s pretty much over.
Give fawn bleating a try. Not only is it very effective, but it is one heck of a lot of fun!
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