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The deer restoration years! They remain the undisputed whitetail management success story of yesteryear. They were the product of genius and hard work. They resulted in a deer herd that swelled to 2 million animals in this state alone. Hunters were happy and deer were aplenty.

Unfortunately, this record deer herd had many downsides. It resulted in increased crop damage, increased car/deer accidents, increased habitat destruction and increased disease. It also resulted in a philosophy of those building years that remains to present. That philosophy is, "you donít shoot does". While it has been a difficult habit to break, deer hunters are beginning to understand that by controlling the doe population, you are better able to control the deer population. The need to reduce the size of deer herds in selected areas and the success of the recent antlerless hunts proves that hunters understand the need to change the management philosophy when the condition of the herd indicates a change is needed. However, reducing the overall deer population to reduce overcrowding and undernourished deer herds only addresses part of the problems affecting todayís deer in Michigan. Other problems that exist today include herds that suffer from poor age structure and herds that exhibit unbalanced sex ratios. Michiganís deer herd has been suffering from all of these problems for so long, that many people have begun to think that a deer population such as this is natural. It is not natural!

Fortunately, there is a cure for these problems. The cure comes in the form of a tried and proven management philosophy called Quality Deer Management (QDM). And itís the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) that provides the necessary tools for hunters to address the problems of overcrowded, undernourished, socially and sexually unbalanced deer herds in their areas. With overcrowded, unhealthy and poorly balanced deer herds still being the case in many areas, proper management is essential not only to ensure good hunting, but also for the well being of the species.

The strides made in private land whitetail deer management in recent years has been nothing short of incredible. Today, on our own properties, many of us are today enjoying what really is a natural deer population. We have utilized QDM and collectively, we have raised the level of our hunting experience. We are working with our neighbors and influencing their hunting strategies. These are strategies that define how many and when to selectively harvest female deer while not exploiting yearling bucks through voluntary restraint. We have learned that hunting is about far more than the killing of an animal. Itís about our relationship with nature and it touches some intimate drive and need deep within us to get back to conservation.

For the past year and a half, the Thumb Area Branch has sponsored many educational events across the Thumb. It has been most satisfying to witness the flood of positive response from people like you throughout the area. This positive response has also been a great help to all QDMA branches in Michigan as they to have educating people to QDM. This positive response has confirmed beyond any doubt that the interest in QDM is widespread and growing. Youíve helped us fine-tune our objectives for establishing additional Deer Management Units (DMUís) in the future, resembling DMU 107.

As we move into the 21st century, itís an appropriate time to review the principles weíve been using since the restoration years. In doing so, we would like to help you assess where you are in your own management program and what your next step should be. If your not currently trying to improve the herd you hunt, weíd love to help you get started. Once youíve seen how easy a Quality Deer Management program is to implement and how effective it is, we really think youíll want to try it yourself.



Keep The Fun In Hunting

Perry S. Russo

Thumb Area Branch President