RE: deer lactation cycle
Welcome to the board! Always nice to see another woman join our ranks. Hope this information answers your question.
Lactation is a fancy term for whether a doe is “in milk” or not. Again, this is fairly self–explanatory, but again it can be difficult. This information is important because it provides evidence that a doe gave birth and successfully raised one or more fawns. The percentage of adult does (2.5 years old or older) lactating in a given year provides an estimate of the reproductive health of the herd and the number of fawns that were recruited into hunting population. In most areas of the U.S., a lactation rate of 70–80 percent or higher for adult does is considered good. The actual lactation rate is generally higher, but does that gave birth early and/or weaned their fawns early often are recorded as “dry” when harvested during the season. In the northern and midwestern portions of the whitetail’s range, a moderate to high percentage of yearling does may be lactating during the hunting season indicating that they bred as fawns. This is a very healthy situation, albeit somewhat rare in the South due to high deer populations and lower quality nutrition.
To check for lactation, simply squeeze the doe’s mammary glands. However, this will not always provide evidence of lactation. You may need to slice into the milk bag with your knife and see if any yellowish to brownish material is present. If the doe is drying–up, but was obviously producing milk earlier, then the answer is, “Yes, the doe is lactating.”
Its not what you harvest...
Its what you learn...