I do read through these threads though truthfully a lot of it is way over my head and taken to a level that I will never experience. I know very few people that can call a square mile of land as their own in the area I live in. So I guess realistically for the vast majority of us at least, the local co-op is a far better way to go any way.
But I did have to look up the word "pejorative" Jack. So all is not lost. You can learn something every day if you try hard enough.
You don't necessarily need to own a square mine. However, if you don't have some level of control or influence over the home range of a deer, you won't see any measurable results from QDM. You can plant anything you want, but if your neighbors are shooting anything with antlers, you are not going to see more mature bucks. Age becomes the limiting factor in this area.
I don't own a square mile. We own a little less than 400 acres, but we do have some neighbors that don't permit hunting, others who are cooperating in QDM and others that at least have restraint on buck harvest. All told, I'd say we have about 800 acres of influence. Is that enough? I think it depends.
Unless you own huge acreage, bucks will leave your property during the rut and you will lose some. You can minimize how many leave and how long they leave by managing your property, but you can’t prevent it. So, it is a question of whether your gains are more than your losses.
My rule of thumb is 1,000 acres. That is not a hard number. It largely depends on habitat. In quality habitat a deer’s home range is smaller and in poor habitat it is larger. If you put 1% of that home range in quality foods you can have a measureable impact on your herd using body weight and antler size metrics. At 3% that impact becomes significant. Once you get past 5% you start to hit the law of diminishing returns. Does that mean you need to plant 10-30 acres in food plots? In some cases, the answer is yes, but in many it is no.
If you are next to ag, overall quality food may not even be an issue for you. It could be a seasonal issue where food plots are targeted at specific periods after farmers harvest. It could also be that you have lots of quality native foods. On our pine farm, Japanese Honeysuckle has almost become invasive, yet it is a great quality deer food. You may have neighbors that are planting food plots.
I actually like to draw two concentric circles centered on your property, one is the 1,000 acre circle and the second is the 3 mile circle. I like to then inventory the quality foods and when they are available in those circles. I focus on the 1,000 acre circle for herd nutrition, but deer will search for several miles if food gets lean. I use the 3 mile circle to see if I will be drawing deer from other areas. If so, shooting does becomes an even bigger focus with my deer densities.
Once you do this, you have the tools necessary to decide if you can really impact your herd. In some situations, a 30 acre property could be perfect and plenty to have an impact on the herd depending on the surrounding properties.
The idea that many new folks have that if I just buy a bag of SuperFantaticWhitetailMonstorMix and plant an acre, I'm gonna grow big bucks does need to be dispelled, but that shouldn't stop anyone from doing an honest assessment of their property, deciding if QDM is realistic, and developing realistic expectations of what they can do.
Also keep in mind that food plots are just as much fun when they are done for attraction as when they are done for QDM.
Steve has his heart in the right place and I wish him the best and he is saying nothing that I did not believe at some point in the past.
This stuff is fun to talk about but much more fun to do. I've got 400 persimmon seedlings on my deck right now just screaming to be watered...
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