Wednesday, June 18, 2008

QDM: Not Trophy Management?

As most of you who've read the blog know, Cody and I are both avid proponents of Quality Deer Management. And, for a dominant portion of the hunting community today, deer management is a common practice and the traditional attitude of "it's brown, it's down" is viewed as rather archaic. QDM, however, takes things a bit further than just traditional deer management. Often misconstrued as "trophy" management, people sometimes label QDMers as merely trophy hunters (goals of taking big bucks with little regard for anything else). To understand the true goal of QDM, we'll have to take a brief jaunt back in history.

When westward expansion really kicked off in the 1800s deer populations across the country were decimated. Deer were a main source of food, and with no regulations nor understanding of the consequences, deer numbers were reduced to nearly extinction. In the1900s it was realized that something was going to have to be done in order to restore these numbers. The problem was, as was the case in the mid 1900s, the restrictions put in place were aimed at restoring deer populations by restricting antlerless harvests. Quickly the deer numbers catapulted back towards their original numbers, but, in doing so, an unhealthly ecoystem (with regards to whitetails) was developed. With nearly limitless restrictions on bucks, the male whitetails across the country were becoming fewer and fewer. On top of that, in many places even today up to 80% of the buck harvest is of yearlings and 1.5 year old bucks. With fewer bucks around, and fewer mature bucks able to breed, there is extreme stress placed on the young bucks that are around. In some cases, the what is normally 40 day rut can be extended to up to 3 months as the bucks attempt to breed all the doe that come into estrous! This not only places a burden on the bucks, but the does that are bred late in the rut have their fawns late in the spring. This, in turn, leads to an insufficient amount of time for the fawns to develop before the following winter reducing their survival rates. On top of the increased fawn mortality, after the long rut many bucks don't even make it through the intitial winter as they are forced to death through exhaustion.
Naturally there should be a deer herd balance of one buck to one doe.
Traditional management has left some areas with poor balances such as 5 to 1 or even worse. Under the goals of QDM, adequate doe harvests are suggested in order to restore the natural balance. This balance helps restore God's natural order. And, in comparison to the past half a century, it enables the natural processes of the rut to occur as they should. Also, by restricting the harvests of young bucks, this process is enhanced even quicker as the rut is intensified to its normal strength and mature bucks are able to breed does and pass on genetics that are likely superior to the adolescent bucks. However, as has been discussed, having these older, bigger bucks is not the goal of QDM; it is merely a by-product of the hard work and determination that goes into a QDM program. (Of course, I'm not going to lie, more chances at bigger bucks is something that gets the heart going!!)
Better deer and better deer hunting, its hard for any avid sportsman to argue with these results. Be it practiced on 100 acres or 1000 acres, Quality Deer Management produces the things of which all deer hunters dream. Patience, desire, dedication and discipline are all it takes to get a QDM program off the ground, trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Summer: Stand Preparation Time

It would seem as though the vast differences between the weather of the summer months and deer season would mean that the weather patterns are completely different. The summer, however, is the perfect time of year to begine understanding the weather patterns in order to begin preparation for stand palcement in the fall.

It's important to understand the direction from which the wind will blow precdeing both low/high pressure regions as well as warm and cold fronts. Even if you have permanent stands set up in an area, certain weather patterns and thus wind directions make the stand almost unhuntable. Granted, scent control/elimination can help protect one from being detected, but, remember, a big buck may only have to locate you one time and he may be gone from the area until after the season is over.

We have a bow stand at one spot on our property overlooking a spring and a draw. The stand is at the top of a ridge and between the draw and the adjacent draw there is a flat area. Weather patterns are crucial when preparing to hunt this stand. Normally, warm air convection would cause air to rise in the morning. Being at the top of the ridge, this is a postive as the air would not carry your scent down into the spring and basin. However, given the wrong direction of wind (southeast in this case), your scent can be blown directly into the basin. Then, when the warm air convection occurs the scent will merely hover in the area ruining your hunt for that day and days to come. Hunting a northwest wind at this stand is essential or you can count on these thermals blowing up your hunting for days to come! Granted, this is only one example, but its significance is no less as it exemplifies just one reason why understanding stand placement and weather are crucial.

We all know that the serious deer hunter knows to hunt the wind. And, with scent-elimination products today it is much easier to remain hidden than it once was. Still, understanding the weather patterns in your area is very important as even with scent control deer can still detect one's presence. Understand your property's makeup and how it affects the winds. Know where the thermals are most signifcant, find where air is likely to hover and become stagnant, doing each of these things will not only increase your chances and taking a trophy whitetail but give you a better understanding of the environment in which you live. Both of which, to me anyways, are very satisfying.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dream Come True Pt. 2

Believe it or not, I am living another one of my dreams when it comes to deer hunting. I have recently been introduced as a writer for SMYB is a Virginia based deer hunting site with the focus on regular hunters showing off their trophies. We are going to launch an online magazine this calendar year and are hoping to take it to a print magazine in the future as well.

Joe Beasley, editor and creator of SMYB has graciously assigned me with my own section in which my writings will appear; Cody’s Corner. My goal is to have Cody’s Corner become a respected authority when it comes to deer and deer hunting and I hope to help fellow hunters increase their chances of taking a trophy buck through my writings. I plan on contributing how-to articles, articles on deer behavior and biology as well as product reviews for certain products. It has also been discussed that I do a video on tree stand safety that would be uploaded to the site, which is something I am particularly excited about.

I am eternally blessed to have come in contact with the good people at both Mossy Oak and SMYB. These are two amazing opportunities that I look forward to handling with professionalism and passion. I encourage everyone to visit the SMYB site,, and become a part of the ultimate community for Virginia’s deer hunters.