I have another take on this. For me, QDM is a matter of herd BALANCE; in that the NUMBER of deer must first be what the habitat can sustain, and then the ratio of bucks to does must be balanced within that habitat.
Bigger and older bucks should be a BY PRODUCT of that balance, and not a means to an end itself.
When I first started deer hunting in Illinois 30 years ago, we passed NOTHING up. If it was brown, it was down. Bucks, does, fawns...it didn't matter. We were DEER hunting. That's how Illinois had always run it's modern deer seasons (the first modern deer season in Illinois was in 1962, I think).
Well guess what? From my FIRST deer season here, I pretty much had close to a 50/50 chance that if I saw a deer to shoot, it would be a buck as a doe. And you know what else? There were not anywhere NEAR the numbers of deer that we have now, but in spite of that, I saw more RACK BUCKS in my first season or so of Illinois deer hunting, than I did in the 3 years I deer hunted in New Jersey where I grew up! Jersey wouldn't let you shoot does then, and a buck had to have at least 3" antlers to be legal (I always wondered how you got a deer to stand still long enough so that you could measure him...)
Fast forward to today, where many times QDM is merely a cover word for TDM, or "Don't Shoot That Buck So I Can Shoot Him Later When He's A...(insert ego number of choice here).
To me, what makes a buck (or doe), a "trophy" is the AGE it has been able to achieve, BY SURVIVING SEVERAL HUNTING SEASONS. To earn that, they must have been HUNTED!
A buck that lives to 3.5 years or more becausehe's had a protected status is to me, NOT a "trophy" by my definition of the word, but merely a life support device for a set of calcium deposits. Put another way, he hasn't EARNED it.
If a big rack is what you are hunting for, then just go to a pay to shoot place and pay for the biggest one your wallet and ego can afford. You can't have it both ways, and as what many QDM'ers are now learning, you can't stockpile mature bucks either.
I would take more pride in an 8 or 10 pointer that's been shot at for 2 or 3 years, and knows what it's like to be hunted, than one that would score higher, but is a "newbie" to the reality of pursuit, and never had a shot fired at him until he wasalready
full grown. You might even speculate that such practices may eventually WEAKEN the gene pool, because the smartest and heartiest bucks are NOT the ones passing on the genes.
Offer No Apologies.....
NRA Endowment Life Member