I think you know what you are doing here... :)
By yoderj@cox.net
We have put a lot of effort into habitat improvement in the last 5 or 6 years. For me, simply being part of the fully cycle of management is a reward in and of itself. We have been planting food plots, passing young bucks, and harvesting our abundance of does along with timber management over the last 5 years. While we have always had a few mature bucks using the property, up until this year we have never harvested a single deer 3 1/2 years old or order.

I think we have reached a tipping point. QDM is finally paying off, not just in terms of enjoying the process but in terms of opportunities at mature bucks: http://www.qrgc-forums.org/QRGC_Forums/yaf_postst393_QDM--When-Hard-Work-and-Restraint-Pay-Off.aspx

How does everyone else feel? Are the food plots and habitat management associated with QDM paying off for you?
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By Anthony
Well, I do not have the resources to put in food plots and do a proper job like many of you guys do. We have put in mineral licks all over my 200 acres since 2004. I have only harvested about 4 deer since that time. Not only has the deer population really grown from the previous owner and over harvesting but bucks antlers size has grown from these small basket 4 to 6 to larger 6 to 8 pointers. Just some patience and some mineral licks has improved the hunting and this year we are seeing a lot more deer and decent bucks.

Dogs are my main issue here. This is not a direct answer to your question but I am sure many guys fall into this category.
By Sodbuster
Yes and no. Don't have enough acreage to manage a herd. When you let bucks walk they are killed. Have many bucks, but they are mostly yearlings. The deer herd in our spots is not large (growth cages are useless). Where our plots do help is in keeping some doe's alive that would otherwise be killed. Plots also help compete with guys who are illegally baiting. For me plots and tree planting are more fun than the hunt itself and a way to give back more than you take from the land.
By yoderj@cox.net
You guys make good points. I think many folks think they can plant a few food plots and harvest mature deer. That is what a lot of the "buck on the bag" advertising wants you to think. I did a lot of research before we started. My personal conclusions are that you need some level of control on about 1,000 contiguous acres to have a significant impact on harvesting mature bucks.

In some areas, food plots are the answer when quality food is the limiting factor, but in ag country is often is not the case especially as more farmers are keeping the soil covered with cover crops. In some places the limiting factor is the lack of cover. In most places, the limiting factor on mature bucks is the lack of age. The only way to achieve that is letting young bucks walk. That does little good if you neighbor is shooting everything with antlers and letting does walk.

You don't need to own 1,000 acres (which I'm using as an approximation for a deer's home range but it can vary with habitat). You do need some level of influence especially on harvest. This can sometimes be done by educating neighbors and working together. The fewer larger adjoining properties, the easier this is.

Anthony, I can really sympathise with the dog hunting issues. I'm in a dog county as well and they are our number one issue. Laws in our area allow dog hunters to run their dogs across the lands of others without permission and to enter those lands to retrieve the dogs. In my opinion those laws are unconstitutional and an unlawful conscription of private property for use by another with no significant state interest...but that is just my opinion and it doesn't count.

We have found that dogs do not interfere with QDM. Deer don't leave because of the dogs. They simply become nocturnal. This clearly limits our ability to harvest them. We have found that our odds of harvest are much better during archery and muzzleloader seasons when dog hunting for deer is not permitted. Once the firearm season starts our deer sightings drop precipitously. I track our game camera pictures and there is a clear shift from pictures taken during shooting hours to pictures taken after dark once they start running dogs.


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By slay
I have always felt that a large tract of land is the only way one can actually have any degree of control in the QDM arena.
Most of us will never have that. Some states like mine (pa) have EXTREMELY high hunter density. There is no way to protect our deer to achieve thier true potential. Some rare few do despite all this, yet it is not to be expected.

Food plots allow us to feel good and keep us active. While it certainly benefits all wildlife, we can only hope that our efforts make them linger just a moment or two in the course of thier day and allow us an opportunity to harvest them.
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By Anthony
Now, if every member who has ever registered on Chasingame (over 6000 members) would donate $100 each, I could purchase another 500 acres or so. I would not have 1000 but 700 would be much closer.

So, if everyone would go ahead and make their donation now, I can purchase the land and get started on the QDM process for 2013. I have plenty of cameras so thats not an issue.

I will be looking for the donations and keep yall posted.... :mrgreen:
By yoderj@cox.net
We only own 378 acres and are clearly producing results but....

- A 100 acre adjacent property to the west is leased by a guy who is practicing QDM.
- Another 150 adjacent property to the east is a no-hunting property. The owner has given us tracking permission. We count this toward our sanctuary since he doesn't hunt our allow hunting.
- A 200 acre adjacent tract to the north east is owned by a guy who hunts and allows his friends to hunt. He voices some harvest restraint saying that he only shoots 6-point bucks and better. Without a rack width constraint that probably only protects most 1 1/2 year old bucks and I'm not sure his actions follow his words, but at least there is some restraint.

That gives us about 800 acres with some influence. I know with this limitation, we we never make the property what it could be, but we are clearly making progress and some improvement in age structure.
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By Ol Arky
I kinda agree with slay... Just acroos the creek from the stand I killed both my bucks this fall are folks that say "if it's brown, it's down".... In other words they let nothin' walk other that the 3 point rule the state has anyway and sometimes I'm not sure they abide by that... This is the 2nd year I've hunted the area I'm huntin' now and we've killed 4 bucks and 4 doe durin' that time... Plan on killin' at least 1 more doe this fall and if the grandkids get a shot at a buck I sure ain't gonna tell um they can't shoot um.... I myself have seen with my eyes 3 more mature bucks and 4 bucks that don't meet the 3 point rule... We have 4 other 3 point on one side or better buck's on camera... So what happens to those bucks is nowhere in our control... As I mention earlier there were 0 pictures of the 2 bucks I killed this year on any cameras on our lease... We provide mineral sites (4 so far), food plots (2 so far), and supplement food for the deer...

But there is no way we can't do much more.... Even on our lease there are several brown and down folks... We are very lucky in that where my son's and I hunt the folks mostly don't shoot smaller legal bucks and we all don't mind shootin' a doe here and there...

I guess we are on our own type QDM and don't rely on anyone else's help... :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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By hazelvillebucks
if one had a larger property it would give you enough room to breath. it would be easier to manage age structure but if enough people are trying to do the same thing results will come. there will always be those who wish to destroy everything . the key is to do what one can and worry about your own growth instead of those who cannot be saved. when results are had it will help the community ,it will reinforce the development of all. the path to the promised land is not easy there are many detours that will be made. even thou one has a goal he has to learn to make the hard choices to reach it. to become a true hazelville buck a buck must have quite a bit of luck to go with genetics and age.we are human when we set ourselves back shed a tear and get up and double our resolve. there will always be hazelville bucks the goal is to have more of them. no one said it would be easy.
By speed2spare
In my opinion QDM only works if you have several square miles in a chunk. I am in midwest farm country so food plots do not play a huge factor here. Age is the key factor for us.

QDM started in this area about 25 years ago. It went from 95% of all bucks being shot at 1 1/2 to now having 4 and 5 year old deer not being uncommon. The longer an area stays in managing you naturally let bigger and bigger deer have a free pass. You only want so many 130" deer mounted before saying may as well let them live another year and see if we can get into the 140's.

Be careful as to what you wish for. Bigger deer in an area cause as many problems as they do joys. Friendly neighbors become enemies, poachers arive in mass, and shiners make your deer herd nocturnal in about a week once the crops come out.
By yoderj@cox.net
Do you really think several square miles are necessary? Home ranges of deer do vary depending on habitat, but if you improve you habitat you can probably reduce home ranges. During the rut, bucks can range many miles in search of hot does, so even on large tracks, some percentage of the bucks will be shot off the property.

I think that in all cases, some percentage of bucks in your protected age classes will range off your property and get killed. The question becomes when is that percentage so high that you can no longer improve age structure by letting small bucks walk.

Our age structure has improved considerably and seems to be continuing to improve, but at some point we will hit a limit. I'm sure that limit is much further away in big ag country. In some cases in ag country, QDMers are much better served by focusing on cover rather than food plots although depending on the harvest practices, strategic food plots can also help hold deer.

We already have issues with poachers and trespassers and such and that has been getting better since we have been practicing QDM. Several of the neighbors did not have the spine to stand up to the "I've always hunted here and I don't care who owns it!" crowd. Once we bought our place and started prosecuting folks, the neighbors quickly grew spines and the poachers have found softer targets elsewhere. Having said that you make a good point about watching our relationships with neighbors.

For others who think QDM is the "Right Way" to do things, I disagree. If a guy is hunting on land with permission and he is following the regulations, I have absolutely no issue with him taking any deer he wants. As much as dog hunting interferes with my method of hunting, I have no problem with guys hunting deer with dogs where it is legal as long as it is done ethically and with respect for others. Dogs can't read posted signs and may occasionally stray on to the lands of others. However, when guys release dogs on tracts of land so small that they have no reasonable expectation that the dogs will stay on tracts where they have permission to hunt, it crosses the line.

Speaking of harvesting young bucks, while we restrict our seasoned hunters from shooting young deer, we have no such restrictions for kids, new hunters, or older hunters who may not have many season left. Improving our deer herds and having larger bucks available for harvest are not the only goals. We also want to pass on our legacy to the next generation and there is nothing that can frustrate a young hunter more than not being allowed to harvest what may be a trophy to him but an easy pass for us.

I'm enjoying everyone's opinions here. It is interesting to see how folks from different regions have very different issues in implementing QDM.
By scdeerslayer
I myself have seen with my eyes 3 more mature bucks and 4 bucks that don't meet the 3 point rule... We have 4 other 3 point on one side or better buck's on camera

This is why I don't like any kind of antler size rule. You'll get a lot of your bucks with good genes killed when they are 2 1/2 years old, some only 1 1/2 years old when they could have become true monsters, but yet those bucks that don't have good genes are left to breed.
By scdeerslayer
Do you really think several square miles are necessary? Home ranges of deer do vary depending on habitat, but if you improve you habitat you can probably reduce home ranges. During the rut, bucks can range many miles in search of hot does, so even on large tracks, some percentage of the bucks will be shot off the property.

There's a couple of tracts in our family land that are over a mile apart, and more than 2 miles from one end on one property to the opposite end of the other property. These tracts are separated by an area that contains a subdivision, and elementary school, several other houses outside of the subdivision, and a road. On cameras that are around 2 miles apart, I've gotten a few bucks that would move back and forth between the two, even when it's not in the rut. A couple of these were young bucks, and the current one is an older buck that's missing a back leg, and that's when they've been building a new bridge on that road.
By yoderj@cox.net
Yes, during the rut, bucks can range quite far when looking for hot does. Also, home range depends a lot on habitat. In poor habitat, deer tend to range much further. As I said before, you'll never protect all young bucks, the key is what percentage you can protect. Improving habitat tends to reduce home range.

You can think about it this way: Every acre that a deer uses increases the resources available to it but also increases the risk to it. When a deer travels outside the area that it is intimately familiar with, it significantly increases the risk of death. Studies show that the most vulnerable time for a buck is during dispersal when it is trying to establish a new home range. In fact one of the best ways to increase your buck population is to shoot a doe with a button buck fawn. That fawn will not disperse and has a greatly increased chance of survival because of that. Deer are always looking to maximize the amount of genetic material they can pass on. There is a balance between the reward of distributing a little more genetic material this year by traveling further to find and breed more does and the risk of being killed and not being able to pass on genetic material in subsequent years. Likewise, outside the rut, there is a balance between the exposure necessary to get quality food to maximize health going into the next rut and the risks associated with that exposure. Improving habitat provides the opportunity for more reward in a smaller area which means less risk.

As far as antler restrictions go, they are a reasonable proxy for age. Point restrictions are not the best. They will protect some 1 1/2 year old deer, but leave many 2 1/2 year old deer vulnerable. However, they are better than nothing. Keep in mind that on private QDM properties, enforcement is not a big issue and you can set better standards like "width outside the ears" which will protect a pretty good percentage of 2 1/2 year old deer. At a state or county level, you need standards that are enforceable and pretty black and white. Remember in field conditions where action can be fast and time for assessment may be minimal, even experienced hunters can make age class mistakes.

As for genetics, you pretty much got what you got. They change very slowly over a long time. The frequency of genetic material distribution is so high in a free ranging deer population that it is impossible to have a significant genetic impact through hunting. First, 50% of the genetic material of your herd is held by does. They have no antlers for hunters to use for selection criteria, so all doe are selected randomly for harvest with respect to the genetic material that affects antler development. Next, you have dispersal. Young bucks are always moving into and out of your population from neighboring herds each and every year. Finally you have emigration and food, weather, and other factors cause some deer to relocate.

From a scientific genetic viewpoint, there really is no case against using antler restrictions. I think a better case against using antler restrictions is striking a good balance between various recreational hunter objectives. Remember the stages most hunters go through:

1) SHOOT: Just want to fire the gun at something.

2) QUANTITY: Wanting to shoot as many target animals as possible. (Get your limit!)

3) TROPHY: Forget quantity, shoot the biggest trophy!

4) EXPERIENCE: Just getting out and enjoying creation. If you see something fine, if not you can have just as good of a day.

6) LEGACY: Time to give back. Being part of the full spectrum of wildlife management and bringing new hunters into the fold.

That is why we like to use a guideline rather than a hard rule. We use the "If it is a trophy to they hunter and they would be proud to mount it on the wall, shoot. Otherwise let it walk and take a doe."
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By DonMcJr
Well here's my little story for those that think they can't make a difference with only a little acreage...I only own 7 acres and here's my story...

I bought my House on 7 acres in December 2009. There was about 3 acres of field near the NW corner that right away I set my sights on planting some Imperial Clover. It grew up awesome and even just the 1st year I noticed an increase in Deer sightings. During the Hunting Season of 2010 I harvested a nice Doe as it was eating in the clover. The plow I had was only a single old plow pulled behind an old Sears Garden Tractor so the plot wasn’t the best but it worked!


By the Summer of 2011 My dad and I bought a pull behind disc for my 4-wheeler and the Clover Plot looked and grew 100 times better! Trail cams had been showing around 10 very decent bucks using the area and Dad and I had high hopes for the Season! There was one buck that was nick-named Half-Horn Hulk that we 1st got on the Trail Cam in 2010. He was definitely on our “Hitlist” along with a few other 8 Points. The Season was slow and I ended up not Harvesting a Buck until December 29, 2011 which was a small 5 Pointer again eating the Imperial Clover!


Dad and I had very High Hopes for 2012. The Imperial Clover Plot was still going strong and we planted a small “Kill Plot” of Imperial Clover in the woods by Dad’s Blind. October came and went with Dad and I seeing deer almost daily and this is the 1st year that had happened. We attribute this to the Imperial Clover! With Half-Horn Hulk and other nice 8 Points on Cam we knew it was going to happen any day!


On November 3, 2012 I got into my Tower Blind overlooking the Imperial Clover Food Plot around 4 PM. The same Does and Fawns came and ate early and left. About an hour before dark I heard a Buck in the woods at the edge of the plot rubbing his antlers on trees. He kept doing this out of sight for 45 minutes! Finally at last light a Doe stepped into the Clover and was followed by Half-Horn Hulk! I let him walk to 30 yards and whacked him with my crossbow and he only went 30 yards and dropped!
Three days later, on November 3, 2012 Dad and I were both in our blinds and Dad texted me that “Whitey and Blacky”, both Button Bucks had been in front of him and they both acted spooked and ran off and he said be ready a Buck is probably coming. Not 2 minutes later I head the tell-tale sound of his crossbow and a THUD! And he texted me “Big Buck Good Shot!” His buck was a Very Nice 8 Pointer and only ran 40 yards! Two Awesome Bucks 3 days apart all with the help of Imperial Clover!


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