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Implementing a management plan
This past year we have made big efforts to improve the hunting on our piece of property. We recently added about 14 acres of food plots and undertaken several other projects to improve things. The question I have is how do I go about implementing a QDM plan into a hunting club that consists of about 15 older men who have been hunting the same way all their lives (ie, if its brown its down). Obviously the deer can stuff their faces all year long on the plots, but if we cant agree to pass younger bucks, they'll never grow to maturity and really express their potential. I think at this point about 50% of the club shares my philosophy and would back a QDM effort, however i think the other 50% are out for blood. Does anyone have any suggestions how to present this to the later 50% in hopes of swaying their stance? Any thoughts would be appreciated!
My way of thinking is, do you want to kill a 120” deer every year or a 150”+ every 2-3 years. That’s what I’d tell them, and that if it’s something brown they are after, shoot a doe. Like a told a neighbor hunter once, if you let deer like that walk one of us will have a chance at something special. This was after he shot a 145” mainframe 13 point that was 3.5, that I had passed every day. I will say i couldn’t make it in a club like yours though.
if you dont have enforced rules on letting younger deer age then you dont stand a chance.
Management is grossly misunderstood. It is not just planing something. passing on certain deer or supplemental feeding. It is much more philosophy than science. The first rule is understanding, you will not and cannot produce larger bucks than your genetics allow. You can manipulate food. You can manipulate age but you cannot manipulate genetics. On a lease, unless it is the consensus and wishes of the majority, it is almost hopeless. If you all pay the same amount, you all have an equal right shoot whatever is legal. Then, there is the matter of sufficient land. If you have a sizable number of members, then, unless you have a lot of land, you are pretty much doomed before you start. Then, factor in enforcement and penalties and you have the recipe for disaster. Unless you have just about 100% agreement, I don't think you have much of a chance.
Present your ideas but do not oversell it. Don't try to sell too much candy for a dime. Point out the costs, the potential and the downside. Keep in mind, it will cost each member more in terms of cash and labor and they will have to pass up shooting opportunities with no promise of ever killing a bigger deer than they already do. It is a hard sell. And remember, QDM is not, I repeat, not Trophy deer management. It has not one thing to do with antlers.
Teach the young guys new mgt strategies while the oldschool brownitsdown faction slowly phases itself out.
Whoa..hold it Trapper Kayak. Why is management strategies better than brown is down? You are going to have a hard time defending that if you use the word antlers or potential.
Use a wall of fame/wall of shame based on age and not rack size. All bucks are required to be photographed with the hunter and place it on whatever side it Falls into. Incredibly effective
Does the club have written rules or bylawls? If yes, is there a written clause in the rules/bylaws for how the rules may be changed?
If there are written rules and they can be changed by the vote of a majority, the path forward is clear. You need 51% of the members to vote for a change in the bylaws in favor of new rules protecting young bucks.
If there are no written rules, IMO I think you have to ask yourself is it even worth bringing it up? It is almost impossible to change the minds and behavior of whack/stack meat hunters. If their mentality is the purpose of deer hunting is to fill the freezer with meat, then it is highly unlikely you'll change them and you will only frustrate yourself trying. They will nod along and continue to whack anything they want.
To implement any plan, you have to have a way of making people comply. Only a rule change and the threat of being kicked out will change what the other members do.
IMO this is the primary reason that I'll never share ownership or control over a property with anyone. In my kingdom of Little Bohemia, I'm king, czar, and benevolent dictator all rolled into one.
Doesn't matter what your mgt. plan is. If your neighbors and your neighbors neighbors also don't buy in your wasting your time.
I think it’s great that you want to try, and as others have stated, with a “ club” There should be some rules and guidelines.
Depending on the population of whitetails, does would surely help fill the freezer but you have to realize that genetics have a lot to do with you getting what you may consider a top end buck, then consider the neighboring properties and speak with them.
Sometimes it’s a futile effort and sometimes not.
As an alternative, you may seek out a lease or share in a lease that matches your desires.
Most of the reason I decided to have my own lease is I’m surrounded by all managed properties and we are all on the same page.
I can’t hurt to try, but don’t get frustrated, go elsewhere.
Grouse, we don't have any written rules or bylaws, we're a very loosely organized group that consists of only family members.
I may have overstated it before when I said they're the brown/down type. They will almost definitely pass that year and a half 6 pt who is legal in PA (3pts on 1 side), but the problem is more-so that they think that a 2 year old basket 8pt is a "giant". I think for the most part everyone in the club is loosely management minded, I would just like to try and take them to the next level.
I think that most will "see the light" and at least agree to give it a try, but there is 2 that I can think of that will push back with resistance. Those are the ones who I'm worried about. Is it possible that if I could get a majority (say 13 out of 15) on board with a management plan we could expect to see a difference in the quality of our buck herd?
I should also state that we privately own about 1,300 acres and that the surrounding probably 1,000 or so is very lightly, if at all, hunted, which is why i think that if i can get them on board our potential is promising.
I agree with your last part, I cannot wait till the day comes that I can own my own tract of land and can hunt it and manage it exactly how I want haha. I've only recently graduated school so that dream will have to wait a few more years. Until then I'm trying to make the best with what we have.
I'm with Famous Grouse. I'll run the show or not be part of the show. I don't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.
With 13 of 15 hunters being on board, you may be able to exert enough social pressure on remaining 2 to make some progress. The key, I think will be to at last getting the last 2 Whack-N_Stackers to at least agree to either kill does (if/as legal) or forks and leave the "prospects" alone. It's worth a try and if you begin to have some success they may get on board.
I think it will be important to make the holdouts understand that QDM does NOT equal "shoot nothing except a trophy". "Management" is the key word. It's all about having a plan and following it and the harvest is always part of the plan.
Then only thing you can really manage is which bucks are on the hit list as "shootable" and how many does are killed (if/as allowed, again obviously). There is a lot of talk about managing "genetics", but that's all it is--talk. Genetics cannot be controlled in a free range deer herd so it's pointless to even discuss it as part of a management plan. It's a red herring. You can only manage what you can control.
Also many property managers wrongly view genetics are simply a "on/off" switch that every buck has in his genetic breaker box. They think that there is a label by the gene that says "Big Rack" and it's either on or off. Completely wrong.
First, the doe contributes 50% of the genes to every deer. So unless you have a fenced property where you control both the genetics of the bucks AND the does, it's pointless to even discuss genetics. Secondly, genetic influences on rack sizes are NOT understood. It's not as simple as a "Big Rack" switch, there may be dozens of genes that contribute to the production of a big rack. Again, in a high fence operation you can isolate both does and bucks that have produced buck offspring with big racks, but in a wild deer herd, it's pointless to even discuss genetics as it's a non-starter. You can't control it.
If you have a family club and want to retain the comradery and friendships, I wouldn't go crazy trying to create rules and implementing practices that others find not fun. Enjoy the time you have with each other and if a few of you want to get more strict then you guys make the choice to get selective. Eventually if you guys all pass on 2 1/2 yo's they can't all get shot and your first class of bucks should start to get some age on them. Nothing squashes good clubs like a bunch of rules and divisions among the crew.
Grouse, I should have been more clear, your explanation is on point.
Not sure on your deer population but if your allowing more does to get shot to save the bucks then you may shoot yourselves in the foot by lowering the deer population. Where I’m from we do have nice size bucks but the sighting numbers suck so at this point I’d rather see more deer and shoot a decent buck.
If everyone is paying the same and some are opposed to the idea I don’t think I have the (cold) heart to try and convince them to hunt my way and rob them of their perceived joy. If your plans don’t align with your members then you are in the wrong group. It doesn’t sound to me like you are wanting to ram it down anyone’s throat which is good. Just remember that at the end of the day hunting is supposed to be fun. And sometimes the “brown it’s down” crowd has it figured out better than the rest of us
If it comes down to 2 or 3 holdouts I’d let em shoot whatever they want. I don’t know about your area, but in mine, I don’t even worry about identifying bucks until they’re 3. Except for rare cases.
Buck mortality and dispersal Is a killer. I used to try and monitor and watch 2 year olds. . . But a significant amount of time they disappeared in the summer, never to be seen again.
I’ve gotten to where I’d just as soon other hunters pop the first 100 inch 2 year old they see and call it good. Less people in the woods, and now just one less that may stumble into those talented 3 year olds. And really, if they’re happy with that buck, then I’m happy for them.
Join a club where your goals are their goals. Nothing else makes any sense to me, unless you buy your own place. Then you can shoot or pass.
2 or 3 holdouts isn't gonna ruin anything. Sounds like the majority are on the same page so let the others kill a couple small bucks and get them out of the woods so the rest of you can hunt the bigger deer. I kinda like what Bake said above.
To back up what I said above, this exact thing happened this year. A guy on the farm I hunt killed a nice 8, young buck. Filled his tag.
The next weekend he was doe hunting and saw this buck, who’s 3. So he had to let him walk . . .
Just wanted to post a quick follow up to this old post. I met with our club 2 weeks ago, to discuss implementing a management plan. Overall the idea was well received by all but 1 in the club. So there is some hope for all my efforts!! I basically presented it as this: if we want to continue killing the same quality of deer we have for the past 50 years, why would we want to spend thousands of dollars on plots and habitat improvement and hundreds of hours of labor. That seemed to get the point across. The meeting was to basically present the idea of management to them. There will then need to be more discussion as to what those management criteria will be. I posed a few ideas (4 pt on 1 side, outside the ear spread, protect 2.5 yr olds etc.) with the hopes something sticks. Currently we "unofficially" already protect 1.5 year olds as none of our guys would shoot a legal tiny 6pt, so I think moving the bar up a year and saying lets protect the 2.5 year olds would be a good first step. Hopefully these results show themselves in our harvest success and trail camera surveys and down the road that bar can be raised a little higer... Its a start tho! Looking forward to turning some dirt and getting back on the tractor this spring!!
fast, that's great. It's a start. If everyone sees that it works, then raise the bar again in a couple of years. Luckily, the world is changing from "I got my buck!" (regardless of size) to having more respect for the "I could've shot a small 10 but he needed another year, so I passed. The big doe that came by 5 minutes later, well, she filled the freezer!" guy.
We can talk about the positives and negatives of hunting shows but I do seeing this as being a major positive. People are more cognizant of the age of a deer and have seen many success stories of guys and gals killing great whitetails that they watched and let walk for 1 or 2 seasons before finally taking him. Mature bucks are more respected in many camps than their larger 3.5 year old counterparts.
Bow Crazy's Link
Good job fast...one thing I'd suggest to always keep somewhere in your thoughts,,,,your very lucky to have that much private hunting land,,,you could be hunting mostly crappy public land like millions of us do,,but its better than nothing...good luck!
Fun thread to read through, some really good feedback and I'm happy to hear you seem to be moving down a good path. I would suggest you join QDMA and encourage your group to do so as well. The magazine you get with your membership will really support what you are trying to do. You can also go on www.QDMA.com and do a search for QDM Cooperatives for some articles on what you want to accomplish. When there look for a local QDMA Branch for habitat/hunting related activities in your area.
Thanks for the update! BC
XMan nailed it 100%, enjoy your family time. If you try to implement something that not ALL agree with, you are going to cause hard feelings and all the sudden you will see family member begin making excuses why they "can't" hunt - all the sudden it becomes more stress than it is "FUN".
I would move on, do your own thing.
From my experiences, if riffs occur, it's almost always due to personality differences not due to the management plan. The management plan it always blamed, but if you really dissect it, most times it's personality issues that are truly the factor. Now, if your plan isn't clear, is confusing, expectations not defined, not explained, etc., that can cause problems for sure. A good QDMA plan, well thought out and communicated to everyone, will improve everyone's overall hunting experience and make it much more enjoyable - from helping with habitat management work to harvesting an appropriate number of does, to having an older age buck structure to hunt...and everything in between. BC
When I hunted public land our party attitude was if it's brown it's down. Now every one is hunting their own private land and now their (and mine) attitudes have changed. Every one has adopted some form of a management that promotes more and bigger bucks. Since they now own land and are improving the habitat for deer I think we all feel more connected to the deer. To use the word "bonding" may not be the right word but every one now likes to watch and look at trail camera pictures of deer. Maybe, just maybe, if you got every one involved in habitat projects their attitudes might change.