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Thoughts on QDM (Quality Deer Management) in Iowa?????????????

150 Class ... Good Genetics + Good Food + Age = Herd Health = Big Bucks

I don't believe it is possible to consistently have big bucks on a property without a healthy deer herd. Iowa has had many deer grow to big buck status by accident and the fact that we do have good food and good genetics. QDM will take what we are blessed with one step further.

If more people truly practice QDM, our doe population will go down and bring our buck/doe ratio closer to 1:1. As this happens, bucks will compete more for fewer does which will mean a higher percentage of superior genetic bucks will be doing the breeding. In time, this will improve the genetics we presently have in Iowa.

Iowa does have good food, but if the overall deer population is reduced, the remaining deer will have even more food available. This will help a mature buck recover easier after the stress of rut and allow him to go thru the critical months of Jan., Feb., and March in top condition. Very few deer starve in Iowa but I believe many don't get to April in peak physical condition. With QDMer's aggressively reducing the overall population and providing highly nutritous food plots during the late winter months, Iowan's are sure to see a little more antler growth.

I think you already are sold on the benefits that QDM will do for the age of our bucks.

I understand your distaste for losing hunting ground, I think it stinks too, and I'm sure QDM can be used as a scapegoat, but as I have stated in other posts, that's the whole country's future wether we like it or not, and it has nothing to do with QDM. I was raised in Iowa but have lived in many states and there is not one that isn't going through the same issues concerning access to private property. The only difference is we are about ten years behind the other states.
We all agree on several things. Education is on of those key things. It is the key to QDM success. I will admit that most of my education about QDM is based on my personal observations in the field. I have an open mind and am just expressing my opinions, based on what I think I am seeing. So, help me here, do I have my blinders on?

1. Herd Health. The population of the deer in Iowa is healthy. There are not too many deer. At least, based on biology there isn't. The Carrying Capacity has plenty of room for more deer. Sure, the Farm Bureau, some land owners (not all) and some special interest groups might think there are too many. There might be small pockets of overpopulation such as at some parks or cities that don't allow hunting but in most all areas of the state, the land could handle more deer. I don’t think the DNR thinks there are too many deer. I do think that they like where we are at and would like to maintain the current populations and I do think they have given in to the complainers and I do think that since we don’t like to raise our license costs that they do see more doe tags as a revenue opportunity.

2. Food. More than enough. There is an abundance of it. Thinning the herd doesn’t put more food in the deer’s mouth. For example; if you have 50 deer but there is enough food for 200 deer, what have you accomplished if you shoot 25 of those deer? Now there is 8 times the amount of food needed instead of 4 times the amount. That is what I think we have.

3. Food plots. Not needed for the health of the herd. Again, there is an abundance of food. Sure, it makes it easier for the deer to find the smorgasbord and it might work to attract some deer to your food plot at feeding time but they won’t go hungry without it. The natural woodland browse along with the farming practices are more than enough to provide the Iowa deer with all the nutrition they need.

4. Age. Something I would like to see more bucks have. The more that I think about this one, the more I think maybe it might be a good one to force on the people with antler point restrictions or something along that line. Perhaps then, everyone will be shooting the trophy bucks and perhaps we wouldn’t be as afraid to allow more non-residents to join us in the harvest. Your suggestions for tall grasses and other sanctuary practices are right on target.

5. Competition. Something I guess that I am not too worried about. But, leasing goes further than just the non-resident. Residents lease too. I might be going back to Missouri in a year or two and I sure would like to see Illinois do it too.

6. Buck/doe ratios? What is healthier, 2 does to each buck or 1-1? Is it more stressful for the bucks to be breeding twice as many does or is it more stressful for them to be stressing and fighting for half as many? Does the 1-1 truly help the genetics of the herd or does it stress out the bucks more? On a side note, the two bucks that I watched last Thursday had the dominant buck carrying inferior head gear. Cull him and let the nice 3 1/2 year old grow another year?

Like I said, I might need some more education on the topic. Now you know where I am coming from. I still see age as the one and only thing that our bucks truly need. They have everything else already and just need some help in the age department. Help me out here where I might be wrong. What parts of QDM are truly needed in Iowa?
150 class,

You have a lot of good questions. I suggest you check out the QDMA website at www.qdma.com. They give some info and have lots of good books, videos etc.

Old Buck
If I said the words "Quality Deer management" to my neighbours and 99 % of fellow hunters they'd have no idea what I was talking about, shows how little me know about it. Makes me wish I had my own propoerty real bad, I can only imagine the kind of giants we're capable of producing with proper management. It'll never happen here, damn shame.
That is what I'm saying Old Buck. Most people here are so hung up on saying "I got a buck" that they wouldn't dream of shooting doe. to them a 1 1/2 year old or a 2/ 1/2 year old are much better. I saw a guy last year shoot a 1 1/2 year old buck that was about a 100 inch clean 5x5, made me sick. If it has antlers here Old Buck, and somebody is lucky enough to see it, it gets shot at. We still have mature bucks but they are creatures of the Big Woods and seem far more scarce than they are, it is just that we could have so many more top end bucks, it is realy quite sad that people would rather shoot a baby buck than a doe, even a button buck!
Thanks Old Buck. I have been spending some time checking out the site and there is a lot of info there but I have not found all of the answers to all of my questions and thoughts. Perhaps I will need to consider a membership!
150 class,

I think you would find a membership well worth the money. I was a member about 10 or 15 years ago and let it drop because most of the info seemed to apply to the SE and southern US. Now the magazine is great with lots of stuff on qdm in the midwest. The magazines alone are worth it.

Old Buck

How about working to introduce and promote the concept in your area? It seems to me your potential should be incredible. Sometimes, people have just never thought about it long enough to realize that shooting small bucks reduces the numbers of future big bucks.

A friend told me a funny/sad story. Some guys started hunting land next to his and took some really nice bucks the first few years. After some time they couldn't find the big guys so they started shooting smaller and smaller bucks. One day he was talking to them and they showed him a bunch of 1 1/2's in the back of the pickup and said they couldn't figure out where the old bucks had gone. My friend pointed to the small bucks in the bed of the pickup and quietly said, 'They are right there. You just shot them several years too early.' Sometimes it is just as simple as pointing out what should be so obvious. I'd like to know what ran through their heads as that thought soaked in.

Mind set changes like that can be frustratingly slow in a whole community but I always feel better if I try than when I just complain.

Passing small bucks is catching on in the midwest, finally, and the difference is amazing. As I've stated on other threads, what Gary Alt is doing in Pennsylvania has the potential to really accelerate the transition.

I'm looking forward to the day when hunters are proud to show of a big, wise old doe they harvested and embarassed to admit they shot an immature buck.

You look like a young guy. See what you can do to get the transition started in 'your neck of the woods'!

Old Buck
Old Buck,
The story your friend told you sounds very similar to the talk I had with my neighbour this year after i shot my buck. He owns about 1000 acres of sweet habitat, 900 acres of timber, 100 in alfalfa. The timber is thick cover with some new growth areas after logging and a big nasty swamp. He just could not figure out why he or his friends never saw bucks like that on his land. In a polite way I told him that the FOURTEEN 100-140 bucks that he and fellow hunters shot off the alfalfa field last year has everything to do with it. Those bucks were all 3 1/2 or younger and never came close to realizing their potential. I added that there are likely some bruisers that roam the property but they are ones that have run the rifle gauntlet and have learned to stay the heck away from that field in the middle of the woods and the giant tower blinds along the edges. A mid woods stand is unheard of for most people here. I told him the big guys wouldn't come out of the woods before dark knowing what is waiting for them out there.
I guess I still am a young guy, I'm in my late 20's, lots of time to start educating people i guess. I'm saving $$ to buy 320 acres right beside my house, it's mostly timber with a small alfalfa field and some new loffing areas. I'd love to plant those logging roads to something. There are good bucks on the property and good genetics but anyone who gets permission to go in their will shoot any buck they see, not a doe. I think that if I got my hands on that property I would open some eyes after 4 or 5 years of taking out excess does and letting the immature bucks walk.
But then again I live amongst the uneductaed when it comes to big deer. Once I started shooting big deer every year off that piece of property they'd say I was poaching. LOL. It really isn't a big stretch, I've already heard stories like that about myself, lucky me friends and neighbours and landowners know better but people are jealous. My last 5 bucks have grossed 898". The idiots that spend their season driving around in a truck don't believe that someone who has lived here for only 5 years could possible kill 5 mature bucks. They don't realize that with some common sense, diligence, hunting smart and being persistant that they could too.
I can only dream of the day when i own some land other than my measely 20 acres. I bet you'd be sick if you knew what 320 acres of great wildlife habitat would cost me here in NorthWest Sask, about $40,000 Canadian or about $33,000 U.S.
150 Class ...

Iowa's deer herd is a long ways from the carrying capacity of the land, even in our parks, but I also know most Iowa hunters wouldn't want the deer numbers to reach that point because the quality of our deer would suffer greatly, and I don't think the general public would tolerate the deer/vehicle collisions or the crop depredation.

There is a big difference between deer having plenty of food to survive through the winter and deer having the food they need to reach April in peak physical condition. You are right, Iowa's deer herd has plenty of food to survive our winters. I believe a QDM system on a farm can provide the food a deer herd needs to go through winter in top condition. Many Iowa deer don't have everything they need in Jan., Feb. and March, managing food resources, both natural vegatation and food plots, to target these three months can make a difference. Providing good winter food sources near good thermal cover is important. Will this turn what would have been a 150" buck into a 200" buck, no way, but I believe it will give him a better opportunity to reach 160".

Pushing the buck to doe ratio closer to 1;1 will improve the genetics of our herd. This will mean that a higher percentage of does will be bred by bucks with good genetics. Some does will still be bred by inferior bucks but the frequency of this will be reduced. As far as the stress, there are theories that as the buck to doe ratio gets closer to 1:1 the stress of rut among the bucks can actually decrease because a social "pecking order" is established and less fighting between bucks is the result. I could also see less stress on a mature buck if he has less does to try to keep track of. I have never seen this but I believe this is possible.

Iowa is lucky to have the hunting seasons, the climate, and the habitat to grow big deer. QDM is not needed in Iowa if we want to stay where we are at with our deer herd, but if we want to make things even better, QDM is a way to do it.
I practice it as much as possible in Iowa as far as harvesting only mature bucks and does and letting little bucks pass. HOwever, I do not own the land I hunt therefore I can't get food plots and such to further improve the deer.

However, I do know first hand the QDM works. I have hunted IL for the last 15 years, and our hunting group has been practicing QDM for about the last 5 years. During this time we have shot only one small buck (6 pointer that was all beat up) and have harvested several mature bucks and a good number of does (at least 8 a year). Besides the several hundred acres of corn that get planted each year we have begun to plant Biologic for additional food sources for the deer. Because of this we have seen more big bucks (130 inches plus) in the last two years than we have ever seen before. This year we harvested 5 bucks over 130 inches and one 185 inch non-typical. I have to say that QDM is working in IL and I bellieve that it will work in Iowa too.

Quote: Wouldn't it be great if just the first day of shotgun season 1 was doe only and then anysex would start the second day. Just imagine what this would do for our buck population if they just had one day to get a little more educated.

FARMLANDQDM, this is the best idea I have seen on the site yet. I expect this will never happen in Iowa, but I know it would make a tremendous difference in the deer quality. I manage the deer herd on the 8000 acre Biltmore Estate here in Asheville NC. We implemented a program several years ago that required each hunter to kill three does before they could take a buck. Needless to say, there were not many bucks killed for a while, but in three years, we had a ratio at 2:1 and some super bucks. The buck education by shooting does first, does more for the age structure than any other single thing you can do.
150 class,

I just re-read through your post. Since my initial reading I've come across another information source that I think will answer a lot of your questions, especially those related to population dynamics, genetics and the effects of rut stress.

It is the book I discuss in another thread. You can order the book at this website http://www.deermanagement.net/woods-and-associates.html

Look in the 'Online Store'. I think you will find it well worth the money.

Let me know what you think after reading it.

Old Buck
QDM could be a great thing, but around here it hard to do. 1 if you don't shoot it your nieghbor will. 2 nobody is willing to shoot doe's, and 3 there are alot of farmers that don't care. they just want the deer depleted. So they just shoot 'em when they see 'em. Season or not, tag or not. I'm not saying that it doesn' work, but it would be foolish to try it around this part of the state.
I understand what you are saying their will always be opposition everywhere this is started but it has to start somewhere and that is usually on an individual basis. Stick with it talk to your neighbors education is the key. As far as the comment about your neighbors will shoot it if you don't first you know he is dead when you pull the trigger or let the arrow fly but not if you let him go, secondly when you shoot him that doesn't mean your neighbor quits hunting as well so instead of one immature buck harvested there would be two if both of you connect. Set your own goals and stick with it as individual results are achieved others may follow suit based on you success. More importantly have fun with whatever choice you make.
You aren't telling me anything I don't know, and for the record, If it isn't 160 or bigger, it don't get shot by me. unless it's a doe, I use plenty of them in a year. I was just say that around here, it's a whole other world. These farmers don't care what happens they just want 'em gone. Spike buck to doe to 200+ incher, The local farmers see them, The rifle come out and there they lay. I feel that there is places that QDM works, and places it don't. Anyway I guess we have to do whats righ for our area.
To me the reality of QDM is doing what makes you sleep better at night. For me it's letting 160 class deer walk, I know I'm stupid and the next guy will shoot it, but I will never reach my goal of shooting a 180-class deer if I continue to shoot 160 class deer, plain and simple. I know I have a hard time not laughing at people, like my neighbor, who shoot the 120" BIG BUCKS and then they complain about not being able to shoot a 150, 170, or a 200-incher. It’s unrealistic to shoot that 150 inch deer and think you’ll end up shooting a 180 inch deer…unless you use Photoshop.

I've been trying for years to get just my immediate shotgun group of 9 people to not shoot "basket-racks"...and it never fails we fill our tags and most of them are 1.5yr old basket-racks shot by guys that are in their 50’s. It’s hard to convince guys that are around 50 or so to shoot DOES, since they were raised on the grounds of only shooting bucks. If this small subpart of QDM is unmanageable on a personal level, I doubt it’s realistic on an entire State level. I don't personally own any land, but the land I do have access to I try to talk to my friends who hunt adjoining land and we seem to be on the same page, but between fence jumpers and poachers I have yet to see any results of letting big deer walk. I'm trying to be patient and praying that I'll be rewarded one day. I know I second guess myself for letting deer walk, but I still sleep at night because I know I've done what I believe is right.

Everything takes time.

TIME = the biggest downfall to QDM. Especially since habitat is one of the most critical elements. It takes time for trees to grow, it takes time for food plots to establish, for prairie reconstructions to get the upper hand, it takes 4-5 years for the 1.5 year old basket racked buck to reach his full potential, etc. etc. (note- that same basket rack has to dodge bullets and cars and survive the elements for that many years to get to that size as well…a lot of cards stacked against that happening) TOO MANY TIMES people are impatient to wait for the benefits. To combat impatience the IDNR has taken the right steps by granting us hunter’s access to more DOE tags. QDM is several things and to the undereducated it's about big racks. Fair-enough...if it is about big racks and more of them...the easiest way to achieve it is to limit out-of-state any-sex permits, increase the DOE harvest, establish a reporting system (I'm just dumbfounded on why we went several years without one) and in due time the herd shift STATEWIDE (since we all play by the same state rules) will be towards bigger racks. At least in the perfect world and on paper that’s how it’s suppose to work.

QDM has to start with a GOAL. What is the goal? I know in my hunting area my goal and my friends goals are to promote deer to their potential...is it realistic?...very doubtful considering how “factors” are working against us, but we still practice what we think will get us to our goals. Just as much as the neighbor likes shooting 120" BIG BUCKS so he shoots them every year to fulfill his goals.

The future of Iowa's deer herd and the state's QDM starts with each one of us hunters on the smallest (seemingly insignificant) level. By managing those small plots of land we own or hunt the best way possible and spreading education about what and why we're doing the things we try and do is how QDM will develop Statewide (IMO). Each hunter(and poachers too) will have their part no matter what it is...and it all boils down to making decisions that allow you to reach your goals and sleep at night.

Regardless of your thoughts on QDM, you're practicing it every time you purchase a permit and every time you step in the woods to hunt. QDM is the future and how you choose to apply it, will get you the results you get.
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