Voluntary Quality Deer Management
A Concept Worth Considering
Each hunter goes to the woods with individual goals and expectations. Some are looking for a buck of a lifetime, meat for the freezer, or simply a day in the woods appreciating the wildlife within. Many are hoping for all of those things. The positive outcome of each of these goals requires the same common thread – a healthy deer herd balanced with good habitat.
In an effort to improve the quality of the deer herd they pursue, many hunters are voluntarily adopting a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM). QDM is a philosophy and management practice designed to help create a healthy deer herd that is allowed to develop toward its natural potential. The strategy involves harvesting an adequate number of antlerless deer and practicing the selective harvest of bucks in a manner that allows young bucks (yearlings) to reach maturity.
The ultimate goal of QDM is better deer and better habitat. Reducing the number of antlerless deer helps to improve the sex ratio within the herd and lessen impacts upon the habitat. Poor habitat is bad for all wildlife, including deer. Allowing yearling bucks to mature results in older bucks the following season, proper age structure within the deer herd, and a more-defined rut.
QDM is not trophy management. Trophy management concentrates solely upon growing big bucks with large, well-scoring antlers. QDM, rather, focuses on maintaining good habitat and achieving overall herd health with a natural representation of mature bucks.
There are many facets of QDM, but a good starting point is to practice selectivity, allowing yearling bucks to grow another year and taking antlerless deer as defined by the bag limit. In doing so, hunters stand a good chance of seeing more mature animals on the landscape the following season and, perhaps, harvesting one as well.
So as you prepare to head afield this hunting season, think about the type of deer herd you’d like to pursue in the future. Perhaps you may choose to pass on that yearling buck like the one pictured below. The decisions you make this season will help to craft Maryland’s deer herd for many seasons to come.
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