January 9, 2001
Bucks, Bucks everywhere, but nary a one did I take. Oh, I had plenty of chances at record book bucks last year, but things happen. I stuck a nice 2-½ year old 10-pt., 115 B & C on October 15th. I was in a staging area and I saw this guy 18 yards away looking toward me observing a food plot for 10 minutes about 30 yards away from where I was standing. I held off for a better percentage shot and took it at 22 yards as he turned back on the travel lane and was angling away at 45 degrees. I couldn’t ask for better. I thought it was a good hit, found blood, no arrow, & I felt good about it and planned to get on the trail the next morning with my hunting buddies Ted Novak, friend Lynn Grenz, & neighbor Rollie Newman & his son Rick. We looked all day, following a very spotty trail about 400 yards without any luck. I looked for him with my nose the rest of the bow season & nothing.
Note in the picture above the 3-½ year old ten-pt. approximately 160 B & C with the yearling & 2-½- year old buck. He is one of 14 bucks that are 2 ½ years old or older that I had the pleasure of experiencing last year on my property. Two 3-½ year old 10-pts. were taken by firearm. Lynn and my neighbor Scotty Wykoff were the lucky hunters. On December 15th around 5:15 p.m. I was in my blind that I used during the summer to videotape a bachelor group. This blind overlooks experimental food plots which are a comparison of a 1-½ acre of Vernal Alfalfa and 1-½ acre planting of Biologic Premium Perennial. The premium perennial consists of several plant types, such as chicory, plantain, clovers, and rape—which is the only annual. These food plots were planted in May and had very little forage left, but the deer were still visiting—maybe force of habit. In any event there were 15 deer milling about digging through the snow in this open area and this includes (2) 6-pt. yearlings. I hadn’t seen the 160-class 3-½ year old since September 15th, but there he came along with his toady, a nice 2-½ year old 8 pt. He came in to about 90 yards and offered a broadside. Does anyone know how to stop hyperventilation! I did shoot, but only the cap went off. I actually had another crack at him in about 10 minutes with the same result. It turns out the same man who shot and killed 4 bucks with the same arrow in 1993 & 1994 & tells everyone to keep the powder dry didn’t listen to his own advice and got humbled. Oh well, there’s always next year and maybe he’ll be Boone & Crockett.
We did take 14 does (I took 4), 1 doe fawn, 1 button buck, and 3 bucks on our property (160 acres in Clare County and 170 acres in Gladwin County). Sixteen-year-old Quin Gillette of Auburn took a nice 1-½ year old 8-pt. in the September youth hunt. Quin was with his grandfather who I think did a backflip when Quin connected. I taped this memorable event on film and I am sure the whole clan will enjoy repeated viewing. My son Steve took a nice 2-½ year old 8-pt. in my firearm blind on November 16th in DMU 107. That was Steve’s best ever. Lynn Grenz took a 3-½ year old 10-pt. in Gladwin County DMU 106 on November 24th. That was Lynn’s best ever. My neighbor Scotty took a 3-½ year old 10-pt. in Clare County DMU 107. That was Scotty’s 2nd best ever. There were at least 6 bucks taken on or next to my property that were 2 ½ years old or older. No need to say more.
Speaking of button bucks, what do you think of the button buck restraint memo in the Anterless booklet and Game rulebook? DNR personnel told me that this is Chief of Wildlife Ms. Rebecca Humphries initiative. Many people have been pushing this idea including our own secretary Mr. Boyd Wiltse. Mr. Wiltse made a proposal to the Natural Resources Commission last year to use your unused buck tag on a button buck. I believe Becky’s memo will accomplish nearly the same result through peer pressure in a few short years. This is basic Quality Deer Management and I am hearing nothing but positives on this from the hunters. Thanks Becky!
Unfortunately, this peer pressure is not as effective in protecting yearling bucks without mandatory rules. Mr. Terry Kyle, Georgia DNR Wildlife District Supervisor told me not to worry about the public support for DMU 107. If the Dooly County experiment (15 inch outside spread min. buck standard) started in 1993 is any example he just may be right. The support to start mandatory QDM in Dooly County in 1992 was 66% per the survey taken by Kyle and his wildlife staff. This may appear high, and it is. Throughout Georgia 75-80% of all bucks taken were 1 ½ years old (same as ours). Dooly County was chosen for the QDM experiment because their historical average was only 35% yearling bucks taken. This county has a history of practicing QDM. Unfortunately, this 66% survey result became the standard for all other counties striving for mandatory QDM.
The DMU 107 QDM town meeting held last year at Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare on February 6th showed a resounding 90% support. DNR Wildlife personnel counted the survey. There were less than 100 people attending this meeting. The introduction to mandatory QDM town meeting held in January 1997 at Jay’s was jammed with around 400 people standing in the outback room, and according to Jay’s manager, Mr. Ken Logan another 300 people were trying to get in. The vocal mood was negative and yet a survey taken showed 63% support. What does this mean? Does last year’s meeting with low attendance and high support show acceptance? We are not sure, but it is obvious that the general mood is positive, and it is spilling out beyond DMU 107. I have had dozens tell me that all spikes should be protected throughout Michigan. It’s nice to finally hear this, and they think it would be an improvement, but it won’t work. We could be causing harm. Protecting 50% of the yearlings is an absolute minimum, and it should be used as a learning curve only. QDM shows its value when you protect at least 90% of the yearlings.
We attended a meeting of the Michigan Farm Bureau Clare Chapter—our main opposition—last August and invited them to our September 15th educational seminar and also asked them to pick the date for the DMU 107 town meeting. At least 6 attended our seminar and the next town meeting is scheduled for February 3rd, 2001 at 12:00 noon at Jay’s. Please come one come all. The exchange with Farm Bureau members was positive. Hopefully, Mr. Terry Kyle’s experience in Dooly County is repeated. A survey taken by the Georgia DNR after the third year of mandatory QDM showed 89% approval. A survey taken in 1999 showed 95%+ approval and the yearling harvest in Dooly County is around 5 %.
I understand that the mandatory QDM effort in the U.P. by the superior deer management SDM organization is being actively opposed by certain DNR personnel. Shades of Dooly County! What’s ironic in the Dooly County experience is that (3) Georgia DNR Wildlife Biologists, (2) Law enforcement conservation officers, and (1) Georgia Agriculture extension agent under the leadership of Mr. Terry Kyle started the mandatory proposal in Dooly County. They were stymied by their superiors within the Georgia DNR to the extent of job security. Mr. Kyle’s chief told him that if he showed 90% support from both the landowners and hunters that he would be open for discussion. That’s just about the same true support needed to meet the Michigan mandatory QDM guidelines. With supportive DNR personnel blocked, Dooly County residents picked up the banner and petitioned the Georgia State Legislature. The speaker of the house told the DNR Executive Director where the bear did his thing in the woods, and the rest is history.
Change is hard, isn’t it? Especially when it’s your policy of 100 years that’s being changed. I don’t think it’s necessary to justify 100 years of traditional deer management. It was the right thing to do when our deer population was low, good habitat plentiful, and there was much concern about the satisfaction of Michigan deer hunters and little about the welfare of our deer. The writing is on the wall, the ball is rolling downhill, and QDM is the right thing to do. The general public voted overwhelmingly for proposal "G" which is a mandate to balance our wildlife. In due time, I believe all parties will understand and accept the concept of getting our deer into a more healthy and natural state (QDM) and get on with the business of managing our deer and their habitat. This, of course, means we need to put biological issues on the front burner, and let the social issues adjust.
The thumb branch QDMA with Perry Russo as president is having a QDM workshop to kick off the introduction of mandatory QDM in the thumb area. This is a continuing effort started by Don Carpenter and Tom Balser in 1998. They were hoping for MUCC support and when they were denied, the drive was put on hold. Our Executive Director Mr. Brian Murphy will speak, along with nationally known Dr. James Kroll. Both are knowledgeable and excellent speakers. I recommend that you experience their talents. The event will be held at the Ubly Fox Hunters Club. The event is on Saturday, January 27, 2001 at 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $15.00, luncheon included. The club is located on the east side of M-19, 4 ½ miles north of Ubly (5 miles southeast of Bad Axe). For additional information contact Mr. Perry Russo at (248) 620-1923, Mr. Paul Plantinga at (810) 777-3374, or Greg Anderson at (517) 874-6407.
The buck proposal is 4 points on one side minimum for the first buck taken and 15-inch minimum outside antler spread for the 2nd buck taken. The 4-pt. minimum rule protects approximately 75% of the yearling bucks. The 2nd 15-inch minimum outside spread buck rule does many things. The 4 pt. rule does not protect the top end of the 1 ½ year old bucks, but the 15 inch antler spread does. The 2nd rule allows hunters a chance at a 2nd buck even if it is a phantom one. It is a learning tool for Michigan hunters to judge deer by antler width. It is actually easier to judge a buck’s legality by antler width than counting points. Just use the most prominent part of the deer for gauging. The ears of the deer when in the alert position (45 degrees) is approximately 15 inches wide. It allows you to harvest sub par bucks. I witnessed a 2-½ year old 4 pt. 18 inch wide buck breed a doe last November 3rd in DMU 107. Others noticed this same buck, and it probably should be taken out. This guy is not a legal buck in DMU 107. The thumb area is an excellent choice for a QDM demonstration. It is surrounded on 3 sides by water and is mostly private with a skewed buck to doe ratio.
I planted at least 40 different plant types in separate food plots last year. Thirty-six of them have exclosures, which indicates forage use. Records are being kept and pictures taken. Half of them are perennials and it will take at least 3 years of evaluation to make a comprehensive report. In due time I will keep you posted. I am sure it will be available on our web page (QDMA.net). All plots are at least one tenth of an acre, and the early results are most interesting.
One example is Spring Canola. In the last letter I mentioned planting 6 acres of it in early August of 1998. Well, I planted 3 acres of it in late July of 2000 and was expecting a similar experience where the deer didn’t touch it until the plants were at least 4 feet tall and in full bloom. The 1998 food plot lasted most of the winter with the deer pawing right down to the soil. That was a mild winter and yet toward the end of it, the only thing left was 2-inch stubs. The leaves, which stay green under the snow, were the first to go. Spring Canola grows tall (up to 4 ½ feet), is very palatable, highly digestible (85%), winter hardy (upright & green), and high in protein (30%) including the stems. My experience has taught me that deer need to get used to most new plants and this includes corn. My hope for an accessible and high protein food source this winter has been dashed. When the first blossoms appeared in early September and the plants were 2 feet high, the deer hit it and would not let it mature. The only thing left by early December was 12-inch stubs and these would be gone now if it wasn’t for the deep snow and other food plots available.
I grew up on a farm, feel very close to the soil, and have been experimenting with deer food plots since 1982. I believe there was at least 15,000lbs. of forage consumed in this 3 acre Spring Canola field by the first of December. If you are interested in planting Spring or Winter Canola you will need to order it by the first of March from your local farm seed dealer. It comes from Canada. Michigan no longer grows Canola. Do not plant Spring Canola in spring. I prefer the first 2 weeks in August at 8lbs. per acre.
I have given permission to one neighbor to shoot into my canola field. In spite of this, there were 30 deer in this open field early evening Thanksgiving Day. Lynn shot his 10 pointer the day after.
Are you getting a message? Just so you don’t get the wrong message and put all your emphasis into food plots let me set the record straight. If you have it, timber management is job number one. A good clear-cut can produce 3000lbs. of nutritious forage per acre for a few years and it’s available all year. Most annual food plots with its shallow root system in light soil will completely fail in a severe drought. This is a more important message, if you do plant food plots mix them up with a variety of perennial legumes being your base.
We will be having a banquet this fall, details to follow.
Our next meeting will be at Jay’s on January 21st Sunday at 1:00 p.m. We will be nominating and electing board of directors. At our last meeting we took the cap off the number of directors and welcome everyone to help make our cause grow. Our branch has a commitment to the success of DMU 107. We are working to educate Clare County hunters and landowners. We are working with, not against the opposition. We have been trained and are collecting biological data. Along with Mr. Carl Wheeler and his crew at Mid-Forest Lodge we have again collected over 200 deer heads for TB testing.
I have received a newsletter from the West Shore branch, and I like their idea of including an article from one of their members. Perhaps, some of you might have stories to share. Just don’t make it as long as this one. Drop me a line on your QDM program. When I collected data from members throughout Michigan, I had plenty of material. Now I am concentrating on data for DMU 107 only.
Our branch sponsored 18 youths, 15 of whom connected. Three does and twelve bucks were taken. Mr. Bill Sclesky, Bruce Patterson, and Frank Myers did much of the organizing and mentoring. Along with Quin, I sponsored 12-year-old Mr. Martin who took a doe fawn with an arrow on October 7th while hunting with his mother. Bruce did the mentoring. This is hard to beat.
May the New Year’s good news be as plentiful as our recent snow and your disposition as bright. Oh, Always remember to Keep the Fun in Hunting!
Ed Spinazzola, President Mid-Michigan branch QDMA
Board of Directors QDMA