Is Quality Deer Management Becoming A Competition?


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.


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.


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”!