QUESTION: I'm a member of a small hunting club in Jones County, Georgia. Our property consists of two 400-acre parcels.
Although we take fairly nice bucks every year, some club members feel our bucks would get bigger if we instituted a simple QDM (Quality Deer Management) program, like shooting only bucks with four points on one side and letting the smaller 4- and 6-pointers walk.
However, others in the club are opposed to a QDM program. They feel such a system would not work due to the other clubs around us whot don't manage their deer. The worry is that the smaller deer we've allowed to walk would be just be shot by our neighbors.
What are your thoughts? Would it be an effort in futility to go QDM if surrounding clubs don't do the same, or could such a system improve the quality of our bucks in spite of other clubs? - Stephen B. of Loganville, GA
ANSWER: If you're looking for me to settle a debate among your club members, I can't. This is because both sides are correct to an extent.
Instituting QDM practices could indeed have a positive effect on your deer herd. Keep in mind, however, that QDM is far more than just mandatory antler restrictions.
It also includes enhancing the property to improve nutrition, as well as balancing the sex ratio and population size in relation to available nutrition.
If you implement these practices, you should notice positive results in a few years. Unfortunately, so will your neighbors.
As some in your club believe, your neighbors will almost certainly reap some of the benefits of your efforts. Furthermore, given the relatively small size of your parcels, the positive effects of your efforts will be reduced significantly if your neighbors aren't following similar practices.
At the very least, you can improve your situation by building food plots and creating sanctuaries closest to the center of your property. This will reduce (but not eliminate) the probability of deer wandering onto the neighbor's ground.
A much more effective approach would be to work with your neighbors to form a cooperative. The more land and deer you include in a QDM program the greater the overall benefit. In a sense, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.