by Marc L. Yenkel
The practice of Quality Deer Management (QDM) in Deer Management Unit 107 (DMU107) and land bordering it remains strong on a voluntary basis. The Browns Comer White-tail Coalition has confirmed more than 6,000 acres of land owners and lease holders who are currently practicing QDM.
Quality Deer Management is the harvesting of an appropriate number of does to bring the buck to doe ratio into proper alignment and using restraint in the harvesting of young bucks to bring them along to an older age class. Regarding the buck harvest, the Browns Comer White-tail Coalition has used a six point gauge for the past three years. Hunters may harvest a buck who has a six point rack or larger. Regarding the harvesting of does, hunters are strongly encouraged to positively identify the deer they harvest as a doe and not a button buck.
The program has met with great success as hunters are experiencing more buck sightings, increased rut activity, a higher age class buck and a better quality hunting experience. There has been an increase in the harvesting of two and one half and three and one half year old bucks.
Our camp alone took three 2 1/2 year old eight points last firearm season. The camp to the North took a nice eight and a ten pointer, both in the 2 1/2 year age class. The buck from our camp weighed in between 150 pounds and 165 pounds. Thus far this year, several nice bucks have been harvested. Rick Onstott harvested a 2 1/2 year old eight point with a 14 3/4 inch inside spread that weighed 165 pounds. Dallas Shull harvested a 3 ½ year old heavy beamed eight point with a 15 5/8 inch inside spread that tipped the scales at 200 pounds. The bucks antlers scored 124 7/8 inches. Dallas remarked at the coffee shop when I saw him, "Let the deer grow a few years and that's what we'll get".
No truer words could have been spoken. The motto for QDM, "Let em go. Let em grow" rings true again. And it shall in the future.
The program is also good for the deer herd and their habitat. It attempts to build a more natural age structure and a balanced buck to doe ratio. Compared to what many hunters were seeing a couple years ago which was a majority of 1 1/2 year old bucks and an overabundance of does. It will also rehabilitate an over browsed habitat that will better nourish the deer that inhabit it.
The Mid Michigan Branch of QDM supported a proposal this past Spring for DMU 107 to be used as a demonstration unit for QDM. The proposal included the harvesting of excess does combined with an antler restriction of three points to one side for legal buck harvesting. The proposal had strong support at a Town Meeting held at Jays Sporting Goods with 65% of those polled in favor of the proposal. A mailing survey was also sent out which garnered additional support upwards of 65% in favor of the proposal.
The proposal failed to pass the Natural Resources Committee (NRC) however, due to a small, but vocal contingent. The group used emotionalism and sensationalism to mislead the Department of Natural Resources and the NRC into thinking there was wide spread opposition to this proposal among farmers and hunters. They even convinced the Clare County Farm Bureau to pass a resolution against the proposal which is in direct contrast to the position of the Michigan State Farm Bureau. The Michigan State Farm Bureau supports Quality Deer Management. Reduction of the deer herd via harvesting excessive does and the harvesting of legal antlered bucks (3 points on one side) would reduce crop damage for farmers and car deer accidents on our roadways. I wonder if the Clare County Farm Bureau opposes the Michigan State Farm Bureau's stance on bovine tuberculosis?
At the current time the DNR and NRC are working on a process by which deer management units can petition the NRC for specialized regulations in the unit. The final draft of this process may be ready for NRC approval in January. Until that process is finalized and put into effect, the 6,000 acres of land owners and lease holders within the Browns Comer White-tail Coalition, DMU 1O7 and beyond will continue to practice QDM on a voluntary basis. It's a program with integrity that is good for farmers, recreationalists, hunters, and more importantly it's good for the deer herd and the lands they inhabit.
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