Bob Humphrey is the Biology & Deer Behavior field editor for Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine and holds similar titles with other major hunting publications.
He currently lives in Maine with his wife and two children. For more information about Bob, visit his website at www.bobhumphrey.com.
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The ABCs of QDM:
Take the long view to start a QDM program, and look at year-round nutrition, sex ratios, habitat components, nutritional needs and finally, food plots.
QUESTION: I have been in my club for four years and am not happy with deer we are seeing. There are lots of deer on the property, but no big bucks. I know they’re around; the meat processing center is full of them! I want to start a QDM program for my hunting club. What type feeders can you recommend? How often to feed, etc.? What supplements do you recommend? Where do you get them here in Georgia? What about the food plots? —Michael M.
ANSWER: It sounds like your club could benefit from a QDM program, but first you need a better understanding of what QDM is. Quality Deer Management is a philosophy/practice directed toward producing biologically and socially balanced deer herds within existing environmental, social and legal constraints.
It typically involves:
1) Improving or maintaining male sex ratios by protecting most or all yearling bucks
2) Maintaining a healthy population in balance with existing habitat conditions by harvesting an appropriate number of deer, particularly does
3) Improving habitat to produce more and healthier deer
If you’re seeing lots of deer but no big bucks, the first and most important step you can take is to minimize the number of young bucks being harvested. Let them go so they can grow.
Next, you can improve the health and quality of deer by providing better nutrition year- round. This is best accomplished with habitat management. It includes maintaining or establishing the right mix of habitat components like food, water and cover. When establishing food plots, it is important to consider nutritional needs not only during the hunting season, but in spring and summer as well.
Supplemental feeding is not a quick fix. It can be beneficial, but it can also be expensive and time-consuming. To do it right, you must consider the nutritional requirements of whitetails year-round.
Supplemental feeding can also result in supporting more deer than the habitat can support. Deer will eat the feed, but they also depend on natural vegetation. In time, it could become depleted.