Not necessarily. Sighting rates by hunters are usually not a reliable indicator of deer density. For example, research has documented that sighting rates drop in years with exceptionally heavy acorn crops – most likely because food is abundant and deer do not need to move far to feed. Other factors such as weather and hunting pressure play roles. In short, it is possible to have a stable or even rising deer population and see fewer deer while hunting than you did last year. Therefore, do not assume you need to shoot fewer does.
This is a technique that is only recommended in the most advanced deer management programs with extensive acreage, highly experienced hunters or professionally trained managers, and an actual surplus of adult bucks – situations that are extremely rare in North America. And in no free-roaming situation does this technique affect genetics, for better or worse.
Under Quality Deer Management, your goal is to build age structure, meaning you want to increase the numbers of bucks in older age classes. To achieve this goal, age is the best criteria to use when harvesting bucks; set an appropriate age-based harvest rule based on local herd conditions, hunter experience level, and hunter desires. The starting point is protecting most or all yearling bucks and harvesting bucks 2 1/2 or older, then adjust your target age upwards as you advance.
The minimum goal for all QDM programs is to protect most or all 1½-year-old (or “yearling”) bucks. If you have never killed a 2½-year-old buck and would be happy with this achievement first, this is where you should begin. Once this goal is met, you may wish to begin protecting 2½-year-old bucks as well, while trying to harvest a 3½-year-old... and so on. As long as you progressively improve the “age structure” of bucks (or the numbers of bucks in each age class), then the definition of a “quality” buck should be determined by your personal goals.