QDM* Buck

by John Miglautsch

10/06 Wisconsin

The 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 was it.

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 <><

*QDM 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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Quality Deer Management Association
PO Box 227
Watkinsville, GA 30677
1-800-209-DEER (3337)

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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