by John Miglautsch
wind was swirling sometimes from the East, sometimes from the
South, then from the West. It was unseasonably warm. As I walked
to the stand, I realized that I'd forgotten my release in my
other (warmer) pants. When I got back to my bow, I was already
overheating, so I decided to hunt my closer, "patio"
stand. After climbing in and getting settled, I opened my Predator
parka to cool down and started reading a book.
I know, you're thinking... what's he doing reading
when he should be hunting... and believe me, I've missed my
share because of it... but it helps me sit still. And I feel
like even if I don't get anything, at least I'm catching up
on my reading.
Anyway, my daughter had seen what she said was
a nice 8 pt a week earlier, so I passed on two does (twice)
hoping they would attract a big boy. So I'm sitting there reading
and look to my left into the corn field and wonder when Clark,
my dairy farming neighbor will get around to picking corn so
I can see what's going on.
Then I see him...nice rack... coming out of the
corn on my left. I'm not sure how I see deer while I'm reading...
it must be subconscious.. like spotting a police care when you're
driving and aren't paying attention. He's just eating grass
along the fence line. I'm amazed as always at how easily he
clears the 4 ft. high fence. He takes a few steps toward me,
right through the space I cleared after those does walked by
because I didn't have a shooting lane. By now I've put the book
away and started to unhook my bow from the screw its hanging
on. I don't want to look him right in the eye, but I'm feeling
like he's looking right at me. I keep still, mostly looking
away to my right. My peripheral vision tells me that he is content
to wait and see who will move first. Its been 5-7 minutes now...
he's still right there, munching a raspberry leaf. My back is
starting to cramp up... my arms are starting to cramp up...
my legs are aching to move. A few more minutes pass. If I can
just hold still with these pains, he's not spooked yet. I'm
thinking, lets craft a plan.. what if he goes south, what about
north...what if he keeps going west.
My stand is in a swale that cuts down a six acre
wood lot and meadow. It is up about 18' but sits in that valley
so the does have busted me several times. I've never gotten
a deer from this stand. I'm finally getting a bit more bold
about looking at him. I see that he is looking one way... long
pause.. then the other... certainly not thinking about me. I
know I'm not supposed to count the 1..2...3...4 didn't see a
brow tine but there must be one... hey! he's a 10 pt. not an
8. Not massive, but certainly bigger than I've ever gotten in
my back yard. I'm guessing that this is the 6 pt that I passed
on three times last year. Just like the 6 pt., he seemed very
comfortable in this particular real estate. "Please Lord,
help him move across in front of me."
Suddenly, he starts to walk straight west, almost
beneath the point of my stand. I'm thinking wait till the right
leg goes forward (made that mistake before) I'd already decided
that if he took that
path, I'd draw when he got behind the tree that holds up the
south point of my stand. I also figured I could draw while remaining
seated. I silently thanked Matthews that they've made their
Switchback XT so much easier to draw than those first Solocams.
No, I'd never practiced drawing or shooting from a lawn chair
but how hard could it be?
There he went... I aimed very low because I don't
have a pendulum sight and knew that the arrow wouldn't drop
much. I was using Rocky Mountain expandable Assassins because
the meadow goes out over 40 yds. to the west. I anchored the
green pin low behind his right front leg and watched the arrow
fly... it was back and high but it might work. He trotted off
to the south about 25 yds.
and I saw his back legs start to shake... he
fell to the left, got up and went down hard to the right. That
I knew he was down for good so I got on the cell
and talked to friends. I kept shaking for about a half hour...
not so much from buck fever as from holding that pose for so
long while my muscles tied themselves in knots. Todd and Eric
stopped by to oversee and help with the clean up... though this
isn't a massive trophy, it was bigger than many bowhunters have
the privilege of getting in a lifetime of hunting. Now I'm really
glad that I let the 6 pt go (three times) last year.
Johnny Migs <><
stands for Quality
Deer Management. It basically means shooting some does and
letting little bucks go. Now you might not think that I could
implement it with only 6 acres... because there is no guarantee
that someone else doesn't shoot small bucks as they wander around.
But QDM is a PERSONAL decision every hunter needs to make. Last
year I made the decision to pass on a cute 6 pt three times.
It would have been the biggest fair chase deer I've taken. Nevertheless,
I decided to pass on it. When I checked in this 10 pt (see above)
which I'd guess will score around 120", they told me it
was no older than 2 1/2. Based on his comfortable behavior I'm
almost certain that this is last year's 6 pt. I can't know for
sure, but if so, it means that a hunter on even small land can
still make QDM decisions which will pay off in years to come.
Two years ago I also passed on this deer (right ->)
at Johnnie's place where they practice QDM... which he took
two days later. That's another way QDM can benefit others. :)
Here's what I wrote last year: "Last night,
this cute little 6pt walked in from the south. I was setup perfectly
except that he went around the wrong side of my tree. Luckily
I'd thought about this and cut a shooting lane when I climbed
in. As he walked through to check a scrape that I'd freshened
(see "Peein" on the Bowhunting Board) I drew back
and anchored my pin on his chest. Always practice catch and
release... and you'll be ready when big brother walks in. "
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Deer Management Association
PO Box 227
Watkinsville, GA 30677
What is Quality Deer Management?
Quality Deer Management (QDM) is a management philosophy/practice
that unites landowners, hunters, and managers in a common goal
of producing biologically and socially balanced deer herds within
existing environmental, social, and legal constraints. This
approach typically involves the protection of young bucks (yearlings
and some 2.5 year-olds) combined with an adequate harvest of
female deer to maintain a healthy population in balance with
existing habitat conditions and landowner desires. This level
of deer management involves the production of quality deer (bucks,
does, and fawns), quality habitat, quality hunting experiences,
and, most importantly, quality hunters.
A successful QDM program requires an increased knowledge of
deer biology and active participation in management. This level
of involvement extends the role of the hunter from mere consumer
to manager. The progression from education to understanding,
and finally to respect, bestows an ethical obligation upon the
hunter to practice sound deer management. Consequently, to an
increasing number of landowners and hunters, QDM
is a desirable alternative to traditional management which allows
the harvest of any legal buck and few, if any, does.
QDM guidelines are formulated according to property-specific
objectives, goals and limitations. Participating hunters enjoy
both the tangible and intangible benefits of this approach.
Pleasure can be derived from each hunting experience regardless
if a shot is fired. What is important is the chance to harvest
a quality buck - an opportunity lacking on many areas under
traditional management. When a quality buck is taken on a QDM
area, the pride can be shared by all property hunters because
it was they who produced it by allowing it to reach the older
age classes which are necessary for large bodies and antlers.
Where and When Did QDM Originate?
Texas is the formal birthplace of QDM. Two early pioneers, Al
Brothers and Murphy E. Ray Jr., originally popularized this
novel concept in their 1975 book, Producing Quality Whitetails.
This idea was brought to the Southeast in the late 1970s and
it has since been employed successfully on millions of acres
of private and public lands throughout the United States.
Is Quality Management for All Deer Hunters?
No, but there is a growing number of hunters who have matured
to a stage in their hunting that reflects a change in values
and a desire for a quality hunting experience. Involvement in
QDM is simply an alternative to traditional management. Originally,
only large properties (1,000 acres or more) were involved in
QDM, but smaller properties are now participating through the
formation of QDM cooperatives comprised of several smaller properties
with similar objectives. There are and will continue to be hunters
who prefer traditional management, and that is what being American
is all about having a choice.
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