How long will a buck tend a doe? This is a question I am frequently asked while giving seminars on deer hunting.

And although I hate the fact that my answer makes me sound like a politician, the truth is, the only answer I can give is, well, that all depends. What it depends upon is where the doe was in her estrous cycle when the buck encountered her. To a lesser extent, the answer depends upon the buck-to-doe ratio in the area you are hunting.

Gary Clancy

It works like this: A mature buck can tell that a doe is close to coming into estrous hours before the doe will actually allow the buck to breed her. So if a buck found such a doe 12 hours before she actually entered estrous, then stayed with her through the entire 24-hour estrous cycle and then, as they often do, hang around another 12 hours just hoping for a little more action, that buck will be with that doe for at least two full days and nights.

The buck-to-doe ratio comes into play like this. In an area where does outnumber bucks of breeding age by a wide margin, a buck has a much better chance of finding a doe in the peak of estrous. When he does he will leave a doe, which is not quite ready to breed, or a doe which has just completed her estrous cycle.

So the answer really is, that all depends.

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