BASIC QUALITY DEER MANAGEMENT CONSISTS OF THREE STEPS:

1. The first step is the most important. Harvest enough does and/or improve the habitat so that the deer population is maintained year-round for maximum health and maximum fawn production.
2. This usually means having the deer herd at 60% or less of the maximum carrying capacity of the habitat. This will produce the greatest number of fawns per adult doe. In a poorly managed deer herd the adult doe to fawn ratio could be 1:0.7. In well-managed herds it can reach a ratio of 1:1.8. In other words, you can have more fawns (half are bucks) by having less total deer. A large, healthy and consistent fawn crop born at the same and right time each and every year should be the deer manager’s primary goal.

3. Balanced age structure in both the buck and doe population.
4. Keeping records of the deer harvest reveals the age structure and the health. If 80% or more of the adult does (2½ or older) harvested are lactating it indicates a healthy doe population. If the average age of the harvested does is between 2½ and 4½-years-old (prime age) it indicates a productive doe population. In order to accomplish the condition of maximum adult doe pregnancy during their first estrous cycle and having most of the fawns born at the same and right time there needs to be an adequate number of bucks present. Older bucks are preferred as they control the social order and the best of them pass on their genes.

5. Balanced adult buck to doe ratio.

Protecting 50% of the yearling bucks will create a minimum QDM program. The adult buck to doe ratio could be from 1:3 to 1:2 depending on the adult doe to buck harvest ratio. An adult doe to buck harvest ratio of 1:2 should produce an adult buck to doe ratio of 1:3, with a doe to buck harvest ratio of 1:1.4 creating a 1:2 adult buck to doe ratio.

Protecting 100% of the 1½-year-old bucks and up to 30% of the 2 ½ year olds will create a natural adult buck to doe ratio of around 1:1.3. This would necessitate an adult buck to doe harvest ratio of 1:1.1.

Protecting 50% of the 1½-year-old buck’s will in a few short years protect 30% of the total buck population. This is the same percentage of bucks the DNR states survives the hunting seasons and gives us an adult buck to doe ratio of 1:2 the following October 1st. We can help make their prophecy a reality by protecting at least 50% of the yearling bucks, voluntarily or through statewide mandatory QDM rules. Quality Deer Management (QDM) can and does work with statewide QDM rules. Mississippi and Arkansas are examples with 86% hunter approval. Hunters and Landowners, the decision is yours. With Quality Deer Management the total harvest number remains similar. The buck harvest number may or may not change depending on the past management practices, sometimes actually increasing. What does change is the class of buck harvested and the hunting experience into a quality one.

KEEP THE FUN IN HUNTING!

Ed Spinazzola, Executive Board Director

Quality Deer Management Association