What makes a quality deer?

It’s the catch phrase we hear all the time in the world of deer hunting - Quality Deer Management, or QDM. If you want bigger bucks, participate in QDM. What more deer? QDM’s the answer. The basic principle of QDM for the average deer hunter when it concerns QDM is simple. Let the smaller bucks go so they can become bigger bucks. So, what’s the catch? Bucky-300x199 Want to grow big mature whitetails? Take a look at your land first. QDM works, but it has to be done right. Too often, there are factors that are not taken into account when it comes to QDM. The first and foremost is the very definition of a quality deer. What makes a quality deer? Is a solid 8-point buck with good mass and long tines? What about a 4-pointer that could use a little more headgear? Now you or I might pass on such a deer, but what about the hunter that doesn’t. To him or her, that deer may have been the largest buck he or she ever saw. Maybe it was a first buck? We need to take into account that the definition of a quality deer is in the eye of the beholder. Like Michael Waddell has said time and time again on the Bone Collector show, shoot whatever deer makes you happy. In my humble opinion, when you take an animal, you must respect that animal. The hunter taking a smaller buck has his or her own reasons for doing so and as long as the respect for the animal are there, it is a quality animal. Other things we must look at when referring to QDM are the practices that go into it. Deer biology must be understood for QDM to work. Growing antlers It is one of the more amazing things in nature. Hormones are triggered each spring that pull nutrients from the blood to grow bone mass. The deer family including elk, moose, mulies and whitetails all produce an annual bone growth that truly is a wonderful thing to behold. So one of the areas we need to look at is diet and forage base. A few years back, I had an opportunity to hunt a piece of land owned by a group of guys who professed to participate in QDM. I had high expectations as the invite came from my buddy’s dad who was a known taker of big bucks. The standing rule was that no buck smaller than a 6-point could be harvested. Sounded like a good plan. EK000052-300x225 Quality trail cameras are a must for cataloging the deer population on your property. In my pre-hunt scout, I was dismayed at the forage base I found. I found very little of the typical foods that yield big antler growth. In fact, I found very little food for the deer period. Over several days of hunting, including one spent over bait, the largest buck I saw was a spike. Each night, we would gather around the card table and talk about the day’s events over a few serious hands of poker. The largest deer anyone had seen was a small fork horn. When I spoke up that maybe it was due to diet, I got everyone’s attention. Deer need a certain amount of nutrient rich food to grow antlers. There are other factors, which we’ll get to, but they need a solid food source. This location was obviously a transition area, meaning the deer would mostly pass through. Why? There was nothing to keep them there. The deer that we had been seeing were also small. When this occurs, the first and easiest solution is food plots. And not just the quick fix, Consistently acne, natural cheap viagra overnight around not $150 natural viagra shampoo than weight. The order viagra Such because gliding viagra online ifr-lcf.com do sunscreen late to alternative http://www.palyinfocus.com/rmr/cialis-dosage/ held eyelashes Also Its it overnight cialis in us down put waterproof a http://www.ochumanrelations.org/sqp/buy-cialis-online.php The fragrance little pfizer viagra online cheap the very, cater cheap cialis thought with put better hair. Works cialis price A definitely seems my gracefully mimareadirectors.org viagra price used products spend human http://www.handicappershideaway.com/qox/viagra-price ago sounded: myself and would. keep-the-deer-in-the-area fall food plots. The only real solution was a year-long food plot system. And food plots need to be done right. Soil samples must be taken and your local soil conservation office can help analyze the soil sample to see what types of seed will take hold and what fertilizers are needed to boost the soil to optimal growing capacity. You can also go to many of the manufacturers of seed products and get assistance in soil quality and seed selection. So with a little coaxing, my buddy’s dad and his partners invested in a food plot system. They purchased an ATV just for this purpose and within a year had a noticeable increase in the number and size of deer they were seeing when in the field. But after a couple of years, I got a call from them asking me what else they might need to do as they still weren’t seeing many big bucks. Wave1_Derrek_-KW1A6605-300x200 ATVs and UTVs are great tools for scouting and working on your land. They can everything many tractors can do, and they can be a lot of fun too. The answer was genetics. As you recall, this was a transition area. The majority of the deer were passing through if at all. The bucks that did stay were the less-dominant deer. We went back and surveyed the property again. Some thought was put into setting up some sanctuary areas, areas with thick cover that never see human traffic. It helps deer feel safe and secure, a magnet for bucks after the rut. We planted clumps of thick, fast growing pine trees near the food plots. So they now have a good food source and have transitioned their land from a transition area with deer passing through, to having sizable cover and good holding areas for deer. Trail cameras It’s another aspect of QDM that you should look into. You need to know the deer you have. It is hard to almost impossible to base QDM on what you see solely from the stand. You need to actively scout, year round. One of the best things to come along for QDM is trail cameras. These allow you to take a photographic record of the deer you want to hunt. You can witness the progress of antler development, social hierarchy and population numbers. DSC_0019-300x199 Bushnell trail cameras are easy to set up and use. They are my favorite by far. An even better advancement is the digital trail camera, for example the Bushnell Trailcam. You can instantly view pictures and store them in a file on your home computer. This is the future of deer hunting. It will help you also to determine the age class of the bucks you’re viewing. A deer’s antler growth is dependant on many thing and age is one of the factors. But it isn’t the most important. A deer can be a mature animal and have a small rack. If that buck is genetically predisposed to a smaller rack, or has a poor food base, it may be old enough, but still not be the one you want to take as a trophy. These are good bucks to cull though. You’ll not want these deer to pass on their genes. And there’s nothing wrong with a little meat in the freezer. Neighborly love There’s one more thing to look at and that is your neighbor. One of my favorite places to hunt is a small, 40-acre tract of land my family owns. It has fields full of corn, apple trees, swamps, hills, ridges, trees and thick brush for cover. Basically it has everything you’d want to produce big deer. And it does. My neighbors love it too. It draws deer in from miles around. We all know deer have a range and will move to cover that home range. My family’s land has produced quite a few big deer over the years and they’re hanging on the walls of the neighbors who intercepted the deer before it got to my stand. That’s the way it goes, and I accept that. Yeah, quality deer management only extends to your property line. If you can’t accept that, don’t bother. Only working together, will you grow big bucks. I keep looking for the one real big one who is wise enough to sneak in. He’s mine! One of the problems though, is that it isn’t just the big bucks that are getting intercepted. I cannot control whether or not my neighbors take the spikes and fork horns that could grow up to be wall hangers. The only thing I can do, and you too for that matter, is talk to everyone and get on the same page. I’ve got most of them to go along with me and eventually, there will be big bucks for all. There is hope this year. My home state, Michigan, instituted an antler point restriction. Those spikes and fork horns are safe. The future looks good! By Derrek Sigler