QDM Results and Observationson Jan 3, 2013
If you’ve followed my blog posts here at Bowhunting.com with any regularity over the recent years then you know I’m a big advocate of Quality Deer Management (QDM) and the accompanying chess match required when hunting mature bucks. Like many hunters, deer season never really goes out for me, and that’s in large part thanks to modern technology and advancements in deer management practices. Between trail cameras, food plots, Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) projects, and off season scouting, I am provided with a wealth of tools and information that can help me better understand the deer I am hunting heading into each season.
Although much of the focus is directed toward harvesting mature bucks, taking mature does off of your property is just as important.
However, a common misconception among QDM practitioners is that once the hunting season arrives, the majority of the hard work is over. Sure, shooting does is a sound practice in any QDM plan, but other than that, it’s all about killing big bucks, right?! Not so fast, my friend! There’s plenty to be learned about your deer herd during the hunting season. In fact, observations from the stand play a huge role in gaining the best understanding possible of the current state of your deer management plan. In this blog, I will discuss how important in stand observations are to QDM, and what can only be learned from putting time in the woods.
Seeing What Trail Cameras Miss
Since their inception, I’ve always been very fickle about the use of trail cameras. At first, I was in love with them. I’d blindly put them anywhere I thought I could luck my way into a picture of shooter buck, without any regard to scent control, location, time of year, or preferred food sources. This ignorance quickly led to my frustration with trail cameras, because, well, I didn’t know how to use them. Now, however, I’ve gained a better understanding of how to best utilize my trail cameras to gather the best information possible during specific times of the year.
Trail cameras are a very useful tool (when used properly). However, they don't always reveal evrything about your hunting location.
That being said, trail cameras don’t tell the whole story. They’re great for running inventory, but even still, they don’t capture a photo of every deer in the woods. They’re great for monitoring food plots and other major food sources, but what about the secondary food sources that deer, specifically mature bucks, browse on in their staging areas before entering the plot? Relying on trail cameras alone, you’d need nearly one for every tree in the woods to know exactly how many deer call your property home and what bucks are feeding in your food plot! That’s not only financially irresponsible, but would also be detrimental to your hunting success. That’s where in stand observations come into play. I’ll illustrate with a few examples from this hunting season.