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Bear55

Your QDM Experience

40 posts in this topic

Just wondering what everyone experience has been (Good & Bad) with QDM? I hunt mostly public land in the far North of the state and had some mild success but it has been a struggle and I have decided to lead by example and teach whoever is willing to listen. Please share your experience/thoughts.

About 6 year ago I talked everyone in our party into holding out for more mature bucks and take some does out of the herd. Things went well for a couple of days until a few guys got trigger happy and that was the end of it for about half of them. The other half of us, the more passionate hunters, have been passing on the smaller bucks. Many of them get shot by neighbors or others in our party but several have slipped through the cracks and we have had to privilege to take a 1 or 2 good to great bucks every year.

A few discussions on the topic have pretty much gone no where and it has been tough to talk someone into letting something that they have shot for 30+ years. And maybe they are right, who am I to say who shoots what. I have learned to be patient, hunt harder and lead by example. I am also working on the younger generation as they seem more open to change. I also try to teach the others as much as I can about the age of the deer they shoot. Lets hear your story.

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I think QDM is great for those who believe in it and those who have large enough tracts of land where it makes a reasonable difference. Where I hunt(big tracts of public land in North Central MN and small farm in Central MN) it is pretty tough because most people are out to get a deer. They would love to shoot a big buck, but venison in the freezer is the most important thing. I, personally am selective in the beginning of the season, but my main objective is to get out in the woods, spend some time, see some deer and put some meat in the freezer. Big buck would be a bonus, but I don't expect it, nor am I dissappointed when I don't get one. I commend those who practice it. Good for you. You get to spend lots of time just watching and studying deer because they aren't a "shooter" for you and that should be enjoyable in itself. Many of the local hunters are out to get a deer, not necessarily a trophy.

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Most of the bucks I pass up get shot. It will get better as more and more people learn to pass up smaller bucks.

However, I've also shot 3 mature bucks that I would have probably never have gotten had I burnt up my buck tag earlier.

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I agree with what coach said. I hunt public land in northern Itasca County. We don't practice QDM and I still have a quality experience every year. One thing I've noticed is there are always a few big bucks around - they are the survivors and are truly special. Once in a while our party connects with one. In our area if you do get one of the big guys (and it happens) you can be proud because they did prove to survive longer than most.

For me, if I knew I shot a nice buck just because everyone passed on him until he got a certain size, it would take something away from the experience. Like most of the videos out there - they go to private ranches which strictly practice QDM and are basically protected until they reach a certain size - leaves me wondering what is the harder animal to hunt - the big trophy passed up many times and protected, or the 6 pointer who survived a few seasons unprotected on public land with hunters and wolves.

I have saved all the racks I've shot over my 24 years of hunting. Many are spikes, forks and small 6 pointers, and a few are nicer racks - but I remember shooting them all.

To each there own, but every year I go out in search of the big one and every once in a while I get him - and when I do it is a great feeling to know he wasn't protected and I accomplished something special. I know I wont shoot a big one every year - but thats huntin!

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I personaly shoot a lot more does than bucks. i like to shoot a 6 or better, letting smaller deer walk. Others I hunt with are a shoot first ask Questions later. Like, ..."hey I just shot a spike, and you need to tag it because I used my regular tag on a doe yesterday".....

In this state, with small tracks of land, QDM is not possible, or practical depending on houw you look at it.

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I had big intentions starting about 5 years ago with our group. We decided to start trying to do something different by taking some more does and passing on 1.5 and even smaller 2.5 year old deer.

Its become quite clear that the neighbors to our west have no intentions except to throw lead at anything and everything. Worse yet, they lost wounded deer every year since 2003(we didnt talk to them last year, but man they had the multi shot barrages going again).

Then add the guys that hunt on our east side. There are only 2 of them, but um, talk about some more hacks. 2 years ago my Dad watched the one guy shoot at a deer acros their open field. My Dad swore that deer looked hurt big time as it came along the field edge and ducked into their woods. The guy NEVER got out of his stand to even look!!!!!!! We drove over there that afternoon and told him he might want to go take a look. He said he didnt think he hit it. OMG. Where do people like this come from, and worse yet how do they manage to hunt. Oh yea, he even told us he shot a doe in the early morning that he thought he hit in the heart, and watched it for a while and it bounded off. He never found that deer and he actually looked for it.

Its been so frustrating. We pass on deer and they just get blown away elsewhere.

We have 120 acres. Its a great chunk, but not enough to really make it all work. Not with hacks like we have surrounding us. Not only frustrating, but very disappointing that people have such bad hunting talent........

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I hear you on the struggle on public land! I had a Couple good 3 to 4 yr old bucks last year on camera. This year they are no where to be found. what can you do though? I hunt a Mile (without a trail) into the woods and it seems someone else is there too.

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The guideline I use is that I don't want experienced hunters shooting 1.5 year old bucks on the properties I own and manage. Some of us are passing on 2.5 year old bucks too even though I don't have a guideline for it. My philosophy is if you don't want to display the rack then don't shoot the buck. I'd rather have a chance at a bigger buck every few years than tag a small buck every year.

I encourage my rookie hunters to shoot whatever they want, and I encourage everyone to use their doe tags.

It hasn't paid off in the way of any big bucks being taken by anyone that hunts with me (although a guy had a chance at one and screwed it up), but we see a lot of young bucks and I get some pictures of better bucks on my trail cameras. And it seems like it gets better every year.

I also have neighboring hunters that shoot some of the bucks I pass on. But as long as some of them make it through another year there's just that much more chance of shooting a nice one in the future.

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I'll add....

With my bow, my standards have dropped considerably. I have eaten my buck tag 3 years and its eating on me a bit.

All antlers we end up with are plaqued on a board. I'd love to have a set on the wall from a bow kill, even if its sub-standard to what some people think. I have not yet shot a buck with my bow, and now after passing on many bucks that I considered sub-standard, I am now ready to get the monkey off the back and lower my standards with the stick and string a bit. If we had more area to "control" I would feel different.

With the gun though, my/our standards are more on the upside for mature bucks. Hopefully the a$$es around us dont smoke all the 1.5 year olds this year that they see. Not likely..

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we also encourage all the youngsters to shoot what they want

we have 180acres and the neighbors have 360 that butts up to 520 of state land we see plenty of young bucks and thats about it.some one shoots 2.5 to 3.5 yr old every couple yrs it makes you wonder if we need to make more bedding cover for them we seem to only see them during the chase phase.

im with you BLB i have yet to shoot a buck with my bow.that might change this sat.im going to have my three youngsters with and if i get the chance young or old buck im taking it and with any luck we will see some bear on friday to .

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QUALITY DEER MANAGEMENT. Its nothing short of perfect if people would practice it. I honestly dont believe theres a hunter out there who doesnt believe in it. Thats just it, most people are to trigger happy to let it work. Minnesotas TDM (Traditional Deer Danagement) manages strictly for quantity and NOT for Quality..... why is this, when the state could so effectivly manage for both? I dont think anyone will notice more quality deer herds until the state mandates these practices.

Face it.... whether anyone will admit it or not.... a good hunter abides by the law, right!? We do whats LEGAL. In MN, We can go on a 100 man deer drive and shoot everything in sight and divy up tags and sort that out later..... It doesnt matter if its ethical or not, its LEGAL. Until people CANT party hunt, or CANT shoot little 1 1/2 yr old bucks, or CANT shoot a buck while carrying a doe tag....... Your will see nothing change.

The state of MN has more potential to have quality deer than any other state out there. But our laws do not support practices that allow deer to age. Age structure is in a huge pyramid, buck/doe ratio is way off and I think its unfortunate. Whether its for a hunters advantage or not, I think its unfortunate that only a few percent of MN bucks can see beyond the age of 2!

Thats rediculous! But hey... its legal.

All hunters can do what they want. But I know QDM is a good thing and I challenge everyone to stick to thier guns and practice QDM. If your a sportsman, let younger deer grow up.

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or CANT shoot a buck while carrying a doe tag

I agree with some of what you say, but not with this part. I hunt in WI in an Earn-A-Buck zone, where you need to shoot an anterless deer before your buck tag can be used. You wouldn't believe the number of buck fawns, button bucks and small spikes that are being shot and used to fill anterless tags.

Even in my group, which is a small group with very experienced and very selective hunters, we've shot some young bucks the last few years that we never would have shot if we weren't trying to fill our anterless tags right away. The Earn-A-Buck program is effective at taking deer out of the herd but it's not at all effective in managing for bigger bucks.

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I know what your saying Perch. I guess what I was getting at was how, for example: in zone XXX theres 500 doe permits issued. But the people who draw those tags dont have to shoot does. If 5 does and a buck walk by, they can shoot the buck....??? How effective at managing the doe population is that? Now im not saying that hunter should give up his right to a buck when applying for that doe tag, but 500 antlerless tags shougd be used on 500 antlerless deer!

In a "far-out scenario" there could actually be 500 bucks shot and zero does, because all 500 hunters had opportunities at bucks (and chose to take them). In which case, the buck/doe ratio in that zone is now worse off, breeding will run later resulting in more late born fawns, etc....... i know im going to the extreme here, but my point is how poor of a management system it is for controling the numbers of antlerless deer.

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QUALITY DEER MANAGEMENT. Its nothing short of perfect if people would practice it. I honestly dont believe theres a hunter out there who doesnt believe in it.

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I like the direction MN is moving in. No more short 2 or 4 day seasons in zone 4, so guys can pass on the first small buck or two they see and still have time to fill their tag. And lots of managed and intensive harvest areas where you can shoot anterless deer without having to apply for a permit. And more options to take anterless deer and/or multiple deer and/or extend your hunting season if you're after a nice buck. I think all these things will help some small bucks get passed on and make it througn to the next year.

I don't have the "right" answer but I like the way the DNR is moving our deer hunting seasons, at least in my way of thinking it's an improvement over the way it was.

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Great Discussion topic. I have been hunting since 1995 and at the beginning I, and the people I hunted with, were all about filling the freezer. In the last few years my party has started to shift towards more of a QDM philosophy of taking does for meat and letting smaller bucks go and we have noticed an increase in the amount of 3.5 year old bucks around. Now, let me say that we are lucky because we have 200 acres of private land surrounded by more private land and some state land on tough terrain that doesn't attract too many deer hunters. I know that the families around us are practicing QDM as well and that makes ALL the difference. I am no expert on this, but from what I've read, QDM is different for different groups. The overall theory is to let younger bucks go to allow them to reach maturity. I don't think anybody can deny that it works... the proof is out there, but it takes alot of faith and cooperation. I think it's tough for alot of guys to let bucks go... not that long ago it was the culture that taking bucks, of any age, was the way to go. I know in our party and the parties that hunt around us there are a few guys who have been hunting for 30+ years and they still get excited to take a six pointer or small 8 and who am I to tell them otherwise? The guy that hunts with us doesn't have that many more decades of hunting left so I just want him to have fun and enjoy himself... same goes to kids. It's all about personal preference, majority cooperation, and faith. The first few years are the toughest, but once those bigger bucks start showing up more often things get really exciting. One gentlman made the comment that eluded to the point of big bucks mean more if there are less of them... not in my book. I don't care if I shoot a 150" deer and he was passed on for 4 years. A buck that old is still an extremely challenging animal to harvest.

I guess my point is that I would like to see the state gear towards more of a QDM philosophy, but I also want to respect individual choices. What can I say... I am a fence-sitter. It's not a black and white issue, that's for sure.

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Originally Posted By: slimngrizzly
QUALITY DEER MANAGEMENT. Its nothing short of perfect if people would practice it. I honestly dont believe theres a hunter out there who doesnt believe in it.

This may be true, but that depends on what YOU think Quality Deer management is. To some folks, that means there are a lot of deer out there, not just a lot of mature bucks. I think you grossly underestimate the thousands of hunters in this state who really don't care about shooting a big buck. They just enjoy being out, spending time with family and friends, seeing a few deer and harvesting one.

Originally Posted By: slimngrizzly
The state of MN has more potential to have quality deer than any other state out there. But our laws do not support practices that allow deer to age. Age structure is in a huge pyramid, buck/doe ratio is way off and I think its unfortunate. Whether its for a hunters advantage or not, I think its unfortunate that only a few percent of MN bucks can see beyond the age of 2!

I'm not quite sure MN could be the BEST place for whitetails if we had a state mandated QDM plan. There is such a diffence in terrain and hunting conditions throughout the state the plan would have to be unbelievably diverse. Wide open spaces in western MN; Heavy tracts of Timber in Northern MN; Small farms and woodlots inbetween....

One more thing... be careful what you wish for. If the state had a QDM plan that was successful in producing more and bigger bucks, MN will turn into Iowa, Illinois and Kansas where everything will be leased up and there will be outfitters everywhere. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.

Coach I agree 100% with you, one persons def of QDM and anothers can be totally different. I am all for letting small bucks by, but I live to hunt, others may hunt to live! I will not frown on a person that can only hunt 1-2 days a year and only sees a couple deer and takes a small buck for the freezer. If it boils down to it, if we dont have enough deer hanging towards the end of the season we do the same!

Alot of people dont care if there are 14 pointers running around the woods, they would rather have a nice tender 140 lber, 6 pointer to eat. I personally dont want the woods full of 4 year old bucks, its nice to just have a prise 4 yr old come through 1 every year or so, it makes it more exciting! I would rather eat the 1.5-2.5 year olds anyway!

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Some great discussion taking place here...

The Wisconsin propery that I hunt (my dad's house/land) has improved vastly over the last decade through the way we manage our 100 acres and the neighbor manages his similarly sized parcel. We are seeing more bucks every year and better quality bucks are also showing up more frequently. With the exception of the above mentioned neighbor, we are surrounded by hard hunting shoot-a-holics. They simply don't want us telling them how to hunt. For the record, we never tried to tell them anything. We asked politely over many cups of coffee. I'll admit it gets to ya after passing up an immature deer only to see it sticking it's tongue out at you from the back of Old Man Jensen's pickup on Thanksgiving...year after year. But the sweet and ugly truth of the matter is you'll never shoot big bucks by shooting the little ones first (unless you party hunt for bucks- but I'm talking about YOU and YOUR one buck tag). Shooting really nice bucks and improving the age structure/sex ratio of the overall herd won't happen unless those few, proud, and brave hunters out there stick to their guns (and bows) and don't give up what they've started. Patience and persistence.

I agree that it would be nice to see the MN DNR help to improve sex ratios more effectively as well as improve the age structure of our herd. I do think that earn-a-buck is a positive thing. In the end it may not have a huge impact, but surely it helps cut down the number of bucks taken opening weekend. I bet there are plenty of hunters that don't bowhunt and struggle to shoot a doe early in the gun season and all the while have been forced to let a buck or two walk away unscathed. Antler restrictions help but don't protect immature bucks with good antler growth genetics (those are the potential Booners). About 20% of the overall harvest every year is comprised of "button bucks" or male fawns (This info and more like it is available through the DNR). These deer are being registered with tags issued to serve a purpose completely different. I honestly feel that the "male fawn" option should be removed from antlerless tags and the tags be officially dubbed "doe tags". Any harvested male fawns should be registered under a "male tag" with only one male tag per hunter and no party hunting for these tags. I think that alone would revitalize the quality of MN deer hunting. Also by doing this, I know it would make each season a lot more safe. Every year some fatal trajedy happens in the field because someone isn't fully aware of their target. If hunters were forced to distinguish a male fawn from a female fawn, every shot would have more purpose and there would be a huge decrease in accidents involving mistaken identity. If you can't tell the gender difference of fawns then you shouldn't shoot. You also shouldn't drive a car or work with heavy machinery.

Going to the type of trophy hunting QDM that I, and many of you, practice and encourage is tough, at first. I realize it's tough for many hunters to quit "cold turkey" at harvesting immature deer but it's part of a transition. If done correctly, a few years of passing up immature bucks in conjuction with solid land management is all it takes to get the ball rolling. Those that hunt hard enough after this herd "re-building" period can still take a buck every year. The only difference is now those bucks will be bigger. If you have a bunch of 1.5 and 2.5 year old bucks running around and opt to pass on those and fill the freezer with does for a few years you suddenly have potential to harvest a mature buck. If you take a big buck one year and don't shoot the lesser buck then the next year that smaller buck will be bigger and probably of the 'shooter' caliber you are looking for...on paper anyways. I realize bucks change core areas and roam, but if you make your land appealing to deer and are a compitent hunter you have much better odds at taking a respectable buck in anyone's book (including Pope and Young's) than you did years before when you shot that 6-pointer in October.

I didn't intend to write so much but I obviously am passionate about the subject and enjoy discussing it. I didn't try to write anything that anyone should take offensively, but if anyone feels that I have, they can drop a complaint in my box. It's about 20 feet up in a white oak and I'll check it on Saturday.

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Yes everyone has a different perception of QDM. Personally I want the inside spread to be outside the ears. I've been fortunate enough to take 4 such bucks and one more just inside the ears that had really nice tines. I debated on that one a long time before I shot but he was a nice buck.

I have a problem with people shooting multiple little bucks just to fill up their party's tags. This is the reason I would like to see the state do away with party hunting but I doubt that will ever happen.

I do believe the new gun season will have an effect in Southern MN since some people may lose their hunting land with only one season being available. Some parties I know of don't have a local place to hunt now with the new season.

The trophy outfitter that I hunted with in Missouri had the opinion that if MN ran a QDM program that it would be one of the top 3 states in producing trophy bucks. He had big bucks as well. I took a Pope & Young whitetail with him and saw another buck that was 160 inches plus. Just another outside opinion from someone who manages for trophies.

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I just have to say one more thing here.

So often I hear this "QDM means something different to each individual" and "some people just want to put meat in the freezer".

Id like to point out that QDM doesnt take away any opportunity from "these" people. In fact it encourages them. It only says if you want a deer for the freezer.... shoot a doe, fill your freezer, AND actually help the quality of the deer herd. I know some people dont get tags that want them. But every year I see SO MANY people with doe tags who pass on does only to take a small buck. Thats not a meat hunter. Thats not a trophy hunter. Thats someone who doesnt understand management, and as stewards of the land, it should be somewhat of a responsibility of ours.

Also, QDM doesnt mean you cant just get out an enjoy the hunt with you family and friends. It only means you may have to make some different decisions to improve the quality of the deer herd in your area (yes, often resulting in more qualiity bucks).

There are little to no negatives if people would be patient enough to let it work.

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I don't think anything the DNR could do is going to keep everyone happy so maybe any restrictions to force QDM isn't the right way to go. I am all for the young hunters to shoot anything they want and it really isn't fair to tell a weekend warrior or someone just out for some meat that can't shoot what they want. I just wish some of the more experienced hunters could learn to pass up a young buck and take a doe. I have guys in our camp that have a doe tag in their pocket and pass them up to shoot a spike, they also shooting multiple young bucks to fill up tags for other. If you shoot a small one, why not wait for something big to come along. I am also in favor of doing away with the party hunting. I think people would be much more selective with their shots and it will save many young bucks each year. I think over time (many years) Minnesota will become a better big buck state but it is going to take time and knowledge to educate some of the old school hunters.

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I have guys in our camp that have a doe tag in their pocket and pass them up to shoot a spike, they also shooting multiple young bucks to fill up tags for other.

Bear hit the nail on the head in the above comment. As an example a few years ago our neighbors had one tag left and a doe permit for it. They know that I continually pass up smaller bucks. So Sunday morning a fork and a doe walk within 20 yards of me and over to them. You guessed it, they shot the fork.

After about 10 years of letting them fill up on small bucks they are finally starting to pass some up after they get a little meat in the freezer. I don't think the change will come from the DNR, I think (and hope) that hunters in general will change the way they hunt.

BTW, I also agree that any younger hunters should be allowed to take what they want. When my current 8 year old enters the woods, I will gladly allow him to take a couple small bucks until he gets a little older.

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Ya it kind of make you want to pull your hair out. Just las year three guys passed on dozens of does and ended up shooting 4 small bucks between them. We hunt in a managed area and everyone buys an extra doe tag but they never get used. It just comes down to too many years of guys only shooting bucks and they can't get that out of their mind.

I'm hoping some day if I pass enough little bucks and shoot a few big ones something will click. Like many have already said, I would rather shoot a nice buck once every 4 or 5 years than shoot a little guy every year. I just wish the meat hunters could take out a few more does instead of pounding the young bucks every year.

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I just have to say one more thing here.

So often I hear this "QDM means something different to each individual" and "some people just want to put meat in the freezer".

Id like to point out that QDM doesnt take away any opportunity from "these" people. In fact it encourages them. It only says if you want a deer for the freezer.... shoot a doe, fill your freezer, AND actually help the quality of the deer herd.

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Hi Coach

I kind of disagree on the whole bucks being worn down hurting the herd idea. As things are now some of the older bucks we get later in the season normally don't have an ounce of fat on them and are worn down anyway but they are tough animals and most will survive depending on the winter. Plus when the herd is more balanced we get to see a more natural rut. I can always tell when we have a mature buck or two in the area, the scraping and rubbing sign is off the charts and the action can be hot and heavey if you are in the right place at the right time.

Two years ago my dad had a doe and another deer bed down about 50 yards in front of him, he just saw the back end of the 2nd deer. A little while later a fork came in and was trailing the do. When the fork got close to the doe all heck broke loose and a huge buck jumped out and chased this little fork away, the doe went running with them and they were gone. Now he didn't even get a shot at the deer but it was an experience he will never forget and the first time he had seen anything like it in 40 years of hunting. This would be a common rut experience in other states, but is a once in a lifetime experience in a state where all the young bucks get taken out early.

While I agree with you that people should have the right to shoot whatever they want, I just think a lot of young bucks get taken every year that could be replaced by does. I also don't like the idea of Minnesota turning into Iowa or Illinois where you can't find land and Outfitters are running around all over the place but I think there is some middle ground to work with.

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