QDM Co-ops

Quality Deer Management

QDM Co-ops

What do you think to be the most limiting factor that seems to be dragging you down QDM Co-opswhen it comes to harvesting the buck of a lifetime?  Is it the whole crazy concept of the food plot?  No one would argue with you on that because first off, what in the world do you plant, then there is the cost to produce quality forages, and then your inner farmer needs to come out to grow the stuff correctly.  There are just so many limiting factors that range from food plots to your financial well-being that may be keeping you from reaching your goals.  The biggest limiting factor though, in my opinion, could be just outside of your door on the other side of that imaginary line we call, your neighbor.

This may be the most non-talked about subject out there when it comes to producing and harvesting whitetail deer.  Now, we all have them, we all have horrible stories that would make your blood pressure rise, but let me ask you this, why in the world would you spend all that time planting food plots, creating quality cover and browse, all the camera work, and all that scouting if you’re going to end up saying, “my neighbor screwed me up”, before the end of the hunting season.

For those who do not practice QDM, have you used or even heard the line that goes, “I can’t practice QDM, my neighbors will just shoot what I pass”, or this is my favorite line that I hear a lot while giving seminars on QDM, “If I didn’t shoot him, my neighbor would have”?

Working Together For QDM

That brings me to asking you why you wouldn’t take the effort in creating quality neighbors as you do in creating quality whitetails.

Quality Deer ManagementWhen I mention this during a consult or at a seminar, I don’t think there has been an excuse that I haven’t heard.  The one that I hear the most is that I don’t know their neighbors and it wouldn’t work introducing them to QDM.  Funny thing is, your neighbors are probably saying that about them as well.  So I’m here to tell you that it does work and with patience, time, and some more patience, a QDM Cooperative can be formed to be the finishing touches on your quest to produce and hopefully harvest, “the big ones”.

My favorite part of being a deer consultant is having a hand in creating these QDM Co-ops.  I have had my hands in creating a lot of the QDM Co-ops in central Ohio and have traveled out of state to create them as well.  What I love the most is seeing them go from “what in the world did we get ourselves into type of mentality into a “why didn’t we do this before type of attitude.

For those who don’t know what a QDM Co-op is, a QDM Co-op is a group of landowners/hunters coming together and agreeing on practicing QDM on their properties or lease(s).  These groups usually come together twice a year by conducting a meeting, once in the spring and then in the fall.  They share what they’re doing and what they are seeing deer wise.  They also address problems that may come up as well as coming up with innovative ways to help each other be successful and antler growth is a priority because in this case, the bigger the better.  Sounds simple enough, right? That’s because it is!

A Common Goal

The first thing a QDM Co-op has to do is address the trust factor.  All these things mentioned are great, but if the Co-op doesn’t have trust within the group, the success of the Co-op will soon fail and could do so quickly.  I can’t emphasize enough how important building that trust is.  It is without a doubt the key ingredient for QDM Co-ops to be successful.  Time and patience with one another is how trust is built.  Knowing that people are human and they will make mistakes and disappoint you or effect you from time to time is key to building trust within a Co-op.  It all boils down to if you start hiding things, that’s when the interest wanes quickly.  As more and more guys realized that they can trust one another, the fun will begin!

One of the problems that may rise in your area were you hunt is poaching and one of many benefits to a QDM Co-op is that a well-organized Co-op can slow this down dramatically.  As neighbors get to know one another and the trust is built within the Co-op, everyone will start to look out for one another’s property and pay closer attention to their surroundings.  This concept of trying to grow and hold older class whitetails is a chore in itself due to bad neighbors, but when you throw in poaching of the deer that you are trying to get into the next year it seems like an impossible task.  Coming together as a group doesn’t eradicate poaching of your communities deer herd, but it puts out a warning to those who choose to steal from them that they (Co-op) are watching and you will get caught, maybe not today but soon.  The word spreads quickly that your odds go down of getting away with it of robbing people deer.

Benefits

That leads us to the hunting rewards of a QDM Co-op.  Letting deer grow to older class status is the driving force in a QDM Co-op.  From the hunting aspects of things, letting young bucks walk, shooting an adequate number of does, leaving areas rest, and trying not to shoot button bucks are all important factors in practicing QDM.  Knowing that your neighbors are doing the same lets you feel at ease while you’re trying to manage for quality on your property.  Thinking and knowing that your neighbors are following the same path as you is the challenging part of a Co-op.  When the “rules” are followed if you will, you will quickly learn that the proof can’t be hidden.

If you would like to start a QDM Co-op in your area, contact your Local QDMA Branch or contact me at Drumming Log Wildlife Management.  We can answer most, if not all your questions in forming a Co-op in your area.  It can be done!!

Erich D. Long
Drumming Log Wildlife Management

 

Fall Food Plots

Planting Fall Food Plots

Fall Food Plots

So you just got the piece of property of your life and I’m sure your mind is running in a thousand different directions of what you need to do to prep for the upcoming season.  You have tree stands or ground blinds that need ordered and placed, then you have cameras that need put up, and then, maybe fall food plots, or do you?

Prioritize

You have enough on your plate with your new piece of paradise; you may not have to fool Planting Fall Food Plotswith fall food plots at all the first year.  Let me explain, to produce forages that will produce tons of forage per acre and the protein or carbs that you have envisioned that will occur when you planted that magic bean, it takes knowledge and unfortunately, money to get it right.  You have to ask yourself, is it the right thing to do until you have the time and money to do it correctly so your expectations can be met.

My advice to you is maybe to wait until you learn what the property can do for you.  First things first, learn the property by paying attention to travel routes and deer patterns.  After that is somewhat understandable to you, then fall food plots may be a consideration.  Don’t shoot from the hip though and just place these forage areas just anywhere.  Think of topography, soil conditions and ph. levels, and more importantly when it comes to the hunting aspect of things is access in and out without spooking the deer you’re trying to harvest.

Fall Food PlotsPlanting Fall Food Plots

Then the next step is what to plant, pretty important question as well.  The answer all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish on the property or better yet, what the surrounding area is lacking.  Remember, you’re trying to attract and hold deer on the property.  For example, don’t plant corn if your property is surrounded by corn.  Start off with simple forages like winter wheat or buckwheat until you feel that you have a grasp on food plot placement and fertility.  These seeds are inexpensive and extremely easy to plant.  Then, the following year you can plant the good stuff such as brassica varities like Turnips, (depending on location).  The goal here is to simplify your time because if you plant a clover variety, you may be spending more time and money than you should be.

No one could blame you for wanting to plant a fall food plot.  They can be very effective in helping you hold and harvest the buck of your dreams.  What this article is about is to have you to take a breath and don’t get wrapped up in the nostalgia of it all.  There is a lot to think about when it comes to the ever popular food plot and you owe it to yourself to do it correctly!

Erich D. Long
Drumming Log Wildlife Management
“Deer Management Consultants”

Is Quality Deer Management Becoming A Competition?

QDM

Is Quality Deer Management Becoming A Competition?

The definition of QDM, as explained by the Quality Deer Management Association, is; “a management philosophy/practice that unites landowners, hunters, and managers in a common goal of producing biologically and socially balanced deer herds within existing environmental, social, and legal constraints. This approach typically involves the protection of young bucks (yearlings and some 2.5 year-olds) combined with an adequate harvest of female deer to maintain a healthy population in balance with existing habitat conditions and landowner desires. This level of deer management involves the production of quality deer (bucks, does, and fawns), quality habitat, quality hunting experiences, and, most importantly, quality hunters.”

The Philosophy

Pretty self-explanatory wouldn’t you say?  Now, let’s have an honest conversation shall we?  From the start of this great philosophy, the diversity of the membership has come a long way. It ranges from affluent men and women to those who may just wear the label of a QDM’er. With this much diversity in those practicing QDM, you’re bound to have meandering definitions of what QDM was originally truly intended to be.

I’m sure the founder(s) of QDM could have never have imagined that idea or dream that they had, would become this strong force in wildlife management as a whole. It’s amazing to say the least!  With that being said, have the standards changed?  It seems as of late, that this QDM philosophy has become somewhat of a competition.

Expectations

Most people getting involved in management for the first time have expectations that are Quality Deer Managementinsanely influenced by the “fantasy world” of the deer management community.  Who can blame them?  Get on social media and check out all the management pictures and posts.  To some, this may build resentment towards fellow QDM’ers. For example, I read a post on Facebook that was a picture of a guy spraying his food plots and bragging about it.  Different responses were “I wish I could be doing that” and another “I can’t afford to spray this spring, have to wait and see this fall.”  With those responses, you’re allowing yourself to get mentally absorbed into wishing you were him/her.  With human nature being what it is, this also fuels competition of who can be a better manager and it then becomes a job of who can keep up and who can get recognition first and be known as “the great deer hunter.”  Another example I found, was a guy posting an old photo of a deer in velvet that was taken in late July and he reposted it in late June bragging that his deer were coming along fast due to his management practices!  What’s going on here?

It’s magazines, television, certain web shows and social media, that competition is being created intentionally and unintentionally and I believe this will be the monster in the bushes that could destroy this philosophy.

Realism

What people need to realize is that it takes time, money, patience and knowledge to truly accomplish the visions they have in their mind.  Some would say all you need is time and money to be successful, but then there needs to be patience and knowledge to get completed correctly.  When you allow outside influences, whether you think it’s happening to you or not, patience goes out the window.  So, we clamber about to keep up with the “Jones” and resort to some crazy products/ideas that promise things that can’t be achieved faster and better.  All this ends up causing undue stress and then practicing QDM becomes that nasty three letter word, a “JOB”.

Whether you agree with me or not, this is what I see happening out there right now.  Again, you may be allowing outside influences dictate your deer management program!  As I tell all my clients, we are going to do what we can, when we can, with the time and money you have, to be successful.  I explain to them that each property is different and it may take one or more of these items; money, time, and a whole lot of patience to get the final results.

Set YOUR Goals

QDMIf you are fortunate to be affluent, good for you.  For those who are not, this article is written for you!  You CANNOT judge your accomplishments based on what others are doing.  If you’re a family guy who only gets time off on the weekends and you’re on a strict budget, you can’t compare your accomplishments on your “piece of heaven” to the guy that has an open check book and many, many acres.  You’ll drive yourself nuts if you try to keep up with them!  Yes, they may be killing bigger bucks than you year after year, but who cares, let it go.  They may have nicer food plots, better cameras and more acres than you, but your limitations allow you to do what you need to accomplish on “your piece of heaven.”  It’s not a big deal.  If you harvest a 120 – 140 class buck once in a while, be proud of your accomplishment.  QDM is about successfully managing your property to its potential, not anyone else’s property.

I can’t stress enough, do not compare what you can do or afford to others.  It doesn’t make you any less of a deer manager than the other guy.  Watch the television or certain web shows as entertainment, visit social media sites and admire, but don’t get mentally absorbed into the social QDM competition.  You will only fail and make yourself resent QDM and what it is truly all about.

It’s not about who shoots the biggest deer!  We have allowed it to happen socially.  What QDM truly stands for is for “YOU” to become a better steward of our natural resources.  That my friend is the true accomplishment in which it was intended, when you decided to venture into this great philosophy of QDM.

Take home message from all of this, “NO HURRY, NO WORRY, KEEP MOVING”!

Stand Site Selection

Treestand Site Selection

Stand Site Selection

When deciding where to hang treestands, what is the most important thing to look for? The area with the most sign? Where you have observed the highest volume of deer traffic? The densest cover you can find?

Maybe.

All of these are possibly good spots, assuming they also feature the most important element of all-undetected access.

The route to and from a stand is one of the most overlooked aspects in most hunters’ Treestand Site Selectionsetups. Scouting is generally dedicated to finding the ‘hot spots’ in a hunting area, and the access route is considered only after the stand is hung. This approach is precisely backward when the goal is to kill mature bucks.

To identify potential stand sites, we must first find the areas we can enter without alerting the entire herd. This is harder than it sounds, but vital. Sometimes we have to get pretty creative, giving bedding and feeding areas a wide berth and using terrain features to screen our movements.

Another great way to keep deer unaware is to camoflauge our movements by mimicing human behavior that the deer have become accustomed to over time, be it farming operations, gas and oil well activity, or any other disturbance that the deer will not consider to be out of the ordinary. Sometimes, the best way to a stand is to have someone drive you to it, if the deer are used to vehicles in that area.

The access-first approach will inevitably exclude some of the areas that at first glance appear to be great hunting spots. These include some locations close to bedding areas and food sources. Oftentimes there is simply no way to approach a stand in these areas undetected, and you should not hunt them. The temptation is great to hunt them anyway, but the damage to the whole area is devestating.

A good alternative is to hunt between these areas. A stand between bedding areas or between bedding and feeding is often easier to access than one where the deer congregate. And where a spot like this with a wind advantage does not exist, many times one can be made with a food plot or hinge cuts.

Stategic placement of food sources and bedding areas can be one of the most effective tools in the hunter’s arsenal, allowing him to direct deer movement to the areas where he has a wind advantage and can hunt again and again without being detected.

Henry Hershberger – Hillcrest Lumber