What do you think to be the most limiting factor that seems to be dragging you down when 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.
When 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.
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!!