Quality deer management is 3 things.
1) Maintaining deer numbers at, or below, the physical carrying capacity of the land.
2) Maintaining proper buck:doe ratios.
3) Maintaining proper age stucture in the herd (bucks and does).
Many QDMers artificially increase the carrying capacity of their land by improving the food sources and cover and many, sadly, believe that a clover plot does this. Not true. A clover plot may provide nutrition for part of the year, but it has it's limitations. If plotters are truely trying to artificailly maintain number or carrying capacity they need to maintain nutritious plots for year round use.
Proper buck:doe ratios, on a broad scale, can only be maintained through regulation. I agree that there is nothing, zero, nada wrong with a hunter legally killing a 1.5 yo buck but, is it in the best interest of the herd from a management perspective? Maybe if the number of 1.5 yo bucks harvested is limited to 50% or less...preferably less. Co ops go a long way toward accomplishing this goal when state regs don't address the problem.
Proper age structure is fluid and even with regs that protect the majority of 1.5 yo bucks, seldom will the medium age of bucks surpass 2.5. Again, this is where QDM co ops can help.
What many don't comprehend is that by protecting a majority of 1.5 yo bucks, through regulation, the 3 tenets of QDM can be obtained. Protecting bucks increases antlerless harvest affectively lowering overall deer numbers which balances harvest (bucks/does). Because of the increased survival ability of bucks past their 2nd birthday, more bucks live to be 3.5 and older, increasing age stucture within the deer herd. Doe age stucture should be addressed when populations come in line with carrying capacity of the habitat.
Because most, if not all, of the good folks that care about this stuff, are deer hunters and we all have our own self interests when we take the field, we are predisposed to want to see deer, lots of deer, and bucks, lots of bucks, and big bucks, lots of big bucks. In our quest to achieve these things we often put our own interests ahead of what, we know in our hearts and minds, is best for the resource. So how do we find a middle ground? Well, the best answer I've come across is QDM.
Since practicing QDM I have accomplished the 3 things listed above and at the same time greatly increased my deer hunting experience. Increased buck sightings, older buck sightings, increased harvest numbers (mostly does), and a host of other benefits associated with mature buck behavior.
From what I've read here, and many other forums, Ive learned that most people that have an aversion to QDM are really just frustrated with the regs their states harness them with and therefore become envious or bitter toward those that are able to manage dispite the regs. It's really difficult for any sound thinking individual, IMO, to argue the 3 thing listed above they can however, be frustrated by regs, law breakers, and their lack of time, resources, and commitment to the sport.
When someone makes a commitment for 99% of the season to protect 1.5 yo bucks and then gives up on the last day I am perplexed. Not because they killed the 1.5 yo buck (God bless'um), but because they obviously don't have a plan or grasp of the concept of QDM, or, they're hoping for a trophy and perpetuating the problem by killing next years trophy. Either way I'll never flame a guy for legally harvesting any deer, including button bucks, but I will try to understand the thought process involved with the decision and ask questions and make suggestions that might steer a person in a different direction the next time by giving information and reasoning why it's important to harvest the "Right" deer.
QDM is NOT sight specific. The 3 things listed above can, and should, be adhered to where ever deer rome. I happen to live in an area that has great deer habitat and good deer numbers (on purpose I might add) so I have an opportunity to see and harvest alot of deer. About 10 miles north of me the land is flat, heavily farmed, with little deer cover, and low deer densities. I constantly have guys in that area give me the excuse that they have to shoot the first deer they see because they don't have many deer. Hello...McFly?
It's also been my experience that the more my QDM neighbors and I improve our habitat (cover) the more the non QDM neighbors complain/accuse us, and others, of driving their deer, trespassing, etc. making their harvest decisions justified. Again, I have no problem with their legal harvest decisions, but get rather irritated when they accuse us of unlawful/unethical practices because we've chosen the path of QDM.
If someone is poaching, trespassing or any other unlawful activity that adversly affects your hunting, you must battle them with all the intensity of a bulldog on a bone to stop that activity. Making comprimized deer harvest decisions year in and year out accomplishes nothing and perpetuates the problem, IMHO.
"Fear is interest paid on a debt you may never owe" - Unknown