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What’s QDM and Why Everyone is Talking About It

QDM stands for quality deer management. This is a very important part of our hunting pastime. There is one main thing that QDM is for, and that’s to maintain healthy deer herds, which in turn helps ensure good hunting in the future.

I feel like I’m seeing and hearing more and more people talking about QDM. For awhile I was thinking, “Eh, nice thought but I’m going to kill any deer when I see one.” I’ve changed my thinking after learning more about QDM and the benefits it gives to the hunting community.

The Basics of How QDM Works

QDM is done by monitoring your deer herds, mostly by trail cams or personal observation. Since the goal is to maintain healthy herds, you keep an eye on deer that don’t look healthy, bucks that aren’t growing good, healthy antlers, and harvest these animals during hunting season. Part of a good QDM program is also observing nutritional needs or wants and supplying them through crops or other methods.

Maintains Good Buck to Doe Ratios

A major part of QDM is maintaining a healthy ratio of bucks to does. Have you noticed in your hunting regulations that you’re almost always allowed to harvest more does than bucks? It’s part of keeping a good balance.

QDM Allows Bucks to Mature

And mature bucks will have the big rack everyone wants (except for the ones that didn’t get good genes and were culled from the herd). Lots of people think that a buck with a lot of points means it’s an old buck. Not true! If a yearling buck had a good winter with lots of feed and nutritional needs met, his antlers could easily be a good size at only a 1 1/2 old.

However, that’s not to say that he is done maturing at that age. In fact, it’s not until a buck is about 6 years old that his antlers and body peak in size. Unfortunately, few bucks get to live this long. Although there is a trend, it seems, in hunters allowing young bucks to walk (at least on public land, QDM is usually practiced pretty well on large, private tracts).

Since QDM allows bucks to mature to at least 3 1/2 years or older, one benefit is that it gives the healthy buck a chance to spread his genes out a little more.

If you’re not sold on practicing QDM on your hunting grounds, I hope you keep thinking about it. Letting a couple of young bucks go this year could mean you get a wall-hanger next year. That’s something to think about.


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