Will they grow?

Discuss Quality Deer Management issues here!
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kellory
 
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Re: Will they grow?

Postby kellory » Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:18 pm

Montana Man wrote:I live in Montana so I'm not sure how helpful this will be. I live on a cattle ranch of 10,000 acres and even I am not seeing the racks that I use to. We have had very hard winters in 2008 and 2009 that cut down on our deer herds that we were seeing before. I have come up with some ideas that I would think bring their numbers back. Planting some late season food plots, to bring up their body fat to make it through any blizzards or harsh conditions before spring green grass. Possibly fruit or nut trees. Like you said limit your number of hunters that shoot the big bucks, yes your neighbors are also hunting the same deer as you are, so keep in mind to make your enjoyments first. I do not know of your predator problems but here we have coyotes to eat the fawns in the spring or anything else they can eat and Mountain lions that hit the deer hard anytime. We have started doing predator hunting more to cut their numbers down so hopefully more deer/elk/antelope etc. can make it to maturity. I would like to think habitat improvement of any kind is a great way to keep the ones you have around as well as attract others that are moving around to stay. And like they say the old, mature, giant size deer did not get that way by being stupid, LOL. I don't know if this helps at all, but shoot me an email sometime if you want to talk about it.
Good Hunting!!!

By the way MontanaMan, welcome to the forum! Your knowledge will be helpful as well, have no fear! I don't think I know anyone in Montana, but I have been through there a few times. beautiful country. :)
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

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Cut N Run
 
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Re: Will they grow?

Postby Cut N Run » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:02 pm

Three of the four places I hunt are less than 100 acres and get no archery pressure from anyone but me. I get to see a good number of the bucks in the area, most of which are youngsters. By the time the muzzleloader season rolls around, there are a lot more hunters in the woods & by a few weeks into rifle season, many of the young bucks have been killed. It is very difficult to manage a herd when they roam onto other properties without many size restrictions.

I would rather shoot does and let the surviving bucks grow, unless they have screwed up racks or have been injured. I don't get a lot of chances at big, mature bucks, but even if I never see the bucks that I let pass, holding off on the young ones will only improve the herd.

It is amazing how large bucks can become if they get the chance.

Jim
Luck Counts, good or bad

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JPH
 
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Re: Will they grow?

Postby JPH » Wed Nov 30, 2011 8:35 pm

What a great topic! I can't believe that I missed it until now!

I've been trying to QDM a 35 acre woodlot in North Missouri for 9 years. A nearby 90 acre timber is also under some degree of QDM. The state has mandated an APR during this period as well. We've played with food plots, habitat management, doe harvest and passed many yearling and two year old bucks.

You'd think this would be plenty of time to have a lot of big bucks hanging around...but that hasn't been the case. The overall hunting experience has improved but it has been a slow, painful process. Year in and year out, mature bucks sightings are a rare event. Yes, we see them and we've even killed a few, but they are not exactly running us over.

There is a poaching problem in the area, and while the farms around us are decent, we are the only ones managing habitat for wildlife. When you are up against those kind of things, progress can be slow. But I think the real reason we do not have big mature bucks running all over, is that bucks like that simply refuse to share such a small space. As good as we've made our place, it's still only going to hold so many deer at a time, and only one of them is likely to be a big mature buck. I just don't think you can stockpile free ranging bucks.

Now please don't take this to mean that I'm not happy with my efforts. I am still glad that I've put in the work, and I have no intention of stopping. I just realize that my efforts are unlikely to produce an experience that resembles a TV hunting show. I do expect things to coninue to slowly improve but I also know there will continue to be frustraition as well. I do what I do because I want to make the place better for deer and all wildlife. I'm okay with taking a yearly doe and will letting younger bucks walk. But I'm also open to the chance that one day I may choose to shoot the first fat little buck that makes it over the APR. I don't feel the need to do that now, but if I do I won't feel bad because I've put the work in and earned the right to shoot whatever legal deer I want.

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Cut N Run
 
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Re: Will they grow?

Postby Cut N Run » Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:31 am

My best friend owns15 acres surrounded by (a big, lightly hunted) cutover, pastures, and a new housing subdivision on the next road over. Given the state of the economy, the subdivision developer went broke and who knows if and when they'll build there again. That being said, the surrounding property to my friend's 15 acres has been altered from the mature stand of timber it once was and now posses some really good cover, sanctuary, & deer habitat. He added a feeder, which he runs year-round. Coupled with pasture and his mature oaks, those food combinations draw deer like a magnet from the timbered land, giving him the opportunity to see the members of the local deer herd regularly.

Many years ago on the places we hunt together, we adopted self-imposed antler restrictions to ensure the younger bucks get the chance to make it to the next year. He carried that plan over to his property and has been letting the younger bucks survive and mature. This year, he took his lifetime best buck, a very heavy & wide 8 point buck. The next day he expressed regret at taking some of the smaller bucks in the past that were still a year or two from reaching their potential.

While it is easier to control the characteristics of the herd if you have a lot of land, it can be done if the pressure on the surrounding land is minimal, the deer have sanctuary where nothing is likely to run them out of the area, and other hunters are on the same page. Like JPH said, big bucks will run the subordinates off, but the next most dominant buck will fill in if Mr. Big is gone or busy.

It may be legal and anyone's right to take any deer they see fit tag, but too many hunters settle for tagging a buck of any size and end up messing up the breeding structure of the herd. Next thing you know, much of an age class of bucks has been wiped out. Less superior bucks end up passing on inferior genes and the herd's bucks and does are less than what they might otherwise be. Look at how the big ranches are managed and look what they end up with, a balanced buck/doe ratio and deer that have grown to their potential.

The hardest thing is to get neighboring properties to work toward the same goal. As soon as the "If I don't kill that buck, the guy on the next property will" mentality kicks in, herd dynamics are screwed. Just how I see it.

Jim
Luck Counts, good or bad

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JPH
 
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Re: Will they grow?

Postby JPH » Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:01 am

Good post Cut N' Run. It brings up some interesting points.

I find it unfortunate that your friend's reaction to taking his largest buck went from joy, to regret over past kills. It's all part of the process and I wish hunters could appreciate each moment for what it is. I can look back over some of the deer I've killed and accept that they might not be the deer I thought they were when I shot or the deer I'd like to take next season, but I'd never call that regret. There are some wounded deer I regret and some moments in my youth when I was complaisant in game violations. I sure as heck regret that! But I do not regret a single deer that I've lawfully harvested. If QDM becomes a cause for regret, I think it is time to re-evaluate.

I'm also a little dubious regarding the actual genetic impact of taking this buck vs. that buck. People worry about how various antler restrictions impact the overall genetic pool but I really don't. Again, if we're talking about free ranging deer and micro-properties, there are just too many variables. I really do not think that small scale efforts like ours can can alter genetics.

What I think our efforts can impact is the living space and conditions of the local deer herd. An environment that provides ample food, water and cover, while at the same time being hunted in a thoughtful manner, is attractive to deer and all kinds of other wildlife. It is also a nice place to hunt because it is pretty, it offers plenty of animals to watch and it holds a decent chance of killing an older buck. My experience leads me to believe that that is the very best I can hope for. Any other positive things that take place are simply blessings.

cpolarbear
 
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Re: Will they grow?

Postby cpolarbear » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:38 am

One thing I havven't seen mentioned in any of these posts is whether or not any of the landowner/farm owners participate in deer damage programs around any of the areas the posters are concerned about, where they basically get nearly a carte blanche permission to shoot any deer they see on the affected property at any time during the year. This basically replaces poaching for farmers to fill their freezer year round, with no care or concern to what their heavy handed culling may produce. They just want to shoot any deer they see on their property that might eat whatever crop they are raising. Not saying they are wrong in their thinking, as the deer are technically "stealing" the profit, but it can quickly affect surrounding properties in a free range environment.

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