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Unfortunately,

Much of Durkin's statements couldn't be further from the truth in true northern environments, such as the U.P. of Michigan. Very few individuals understand the complexity of adequate harvest and overharvest in the northern charecteristics of migration and yarding phenomenon areas. To use a quote from Neil Dougherty shows the ineptness of Durkin's statement. I've personally been to Dougherty's property, and he is in now way in a "northern environment", and is anything but and expert on northern herd population dynamics. In fact, on a 2 hour John Deere gator tour of his property, I saw many, many deer. I wouldn't be surprised if Dougherty had 80+ deer per square mile, in fact he told me they had witnessed around 40 different bucks using his property on a daily basis.

"Dougherty recommends that once you have enough ammo, find some friends and family members, and shoot all the does you can legally harvest."

Wow! I'll make sure that I remove that invitation of a hunt here on my property in the U.P. for Neil. I think sometimes outdoor writers forget that we have several areas of the country that don't apply when it comes to the "shoot every legal doe that moves" mentality, including the entire northern 1/2 of the U.P., northern Vermont, northern Maine, etc.

In actuallity, the further north you go, especially into areas of high average winter mortality, the less does you need to shoot! The simple reason for this is that it doesn't matter what your population number, what amount of food you have, it only matters that in true harsh winter conditions, the stress of winter, and the stress of winter alone, determines fawn recruitment and the promotion of a sustainable herd.

Any articles that doesn't mention various areas of the country that do not need doe harvest, as well as articles that recommend shooting "every legal doe", with no regard to actually population carrying capacity numbers, is highly irresponsible.

1.Figure your properties carrying capacity
2.Complete and accurate census
3.Estimate populaton dynamics
4.Harvest appropriatly

In my experience, in the overzealousness to lower overall state or national population numbers, hunters and property owner's sometimes mistakingly apply the "shoot any doe that moves" mentality with total disregard to any reflection of actual population numbers or carrying capacity of a property. This is NOT QDM. When this happens, and overharvest takes place, lack of enjoyment, resentment, and frustration often can lead to pointing the finger at one cherished(at least to me) organization and biological philosophy....QDM.

I took Durkin's article as a promotion of property management activities, seeds, or services, rather than an article of any biological importance or enlightement.

Guys, please, figure carrying capacity, get a true reflection of your property's populaton dynamics, and then set realistic harvest goals, with hard numbers. That's QDM....nothing is ever going to be exact, but at least make and educated attempt and set educated goals........ "Dougherty recommends that once you have enough ammo, find some friends and family members, and shoot all the does you can legally harvest.".....doesn't sound to educated to me.
 

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You can see I am on the anti-"shoot any legal doe that moves" movement right now, but I agree that there are indeed areas all across the state, including the U.P. that have populations that far exceed carrying capacity. Although, in all the states I have hunted, this is evidenced the most in PA. But, at the same time I strongly feel that the image of QDM, and the QDMA has been tarnished in some circles soley by the impression that the lack of deer in their particular areas is a direct result of QDM proponents. In some cases, I actually believe it has!:eek: But, I really want to get the message out there that QDM is NOT unlimited doe harvest, in every season, on every property, in every state. There comes a time when antlerless harvest approaches a level, on individual properties, that census and targeted population dynamics should rule harvest ojectives in the promotion of a healthy, enjoyable, and sustainable herd, as opposed to....."Dougherty recommends that once you have enough ammo, find some friends and family members, and shoot all the does you can legally harvest." I've read Charles Alshiemer refer to this, as well as now his buddy, Neil Dougherty. QDMA members and proponents should be the leaders in this area of collecting scientific data and setting APPROPRIATE and researched harvest goals, instead of blanket statements such as Neil's.

Believe it or not, in my experience, antler restrictions are not really a source of contention here in the U.P., it's instead the lack of actual deer numbers and the over-issueing of antlerless permits in areas they are not needed. And who is to blame in the eyes of many I talk to....QDM. At the same time, just because a DMU is far above it's carrying capacity, does not mean that a substantial portion of DMU properties are actually over carrying capacity. In fact, there are indeed areas that unlimited doe harvest has taken it's toll and produced a herd that is far below healthy and enjoyable numbers....that is not QDM.

At a gas station I was at near Marquette I was talking to a Commemerative Bucks of MI individual who was pulling a trailer with their logo on it, when a prison guard, in uniform actually drove back through the parking lot to yell at the CBM guy..."Quit shooting our does! Quit shooting our does! Go back downstate where you belong." Unfortunately, I'm sure he wasn't referring to CBM, and their radically new doe harvest objectives, but he was deffinately, but mistakingly referring to QDM. I want to make sure those individuals know that they are mistaken! But articles like this just add fuel to the fire. I just can't tell you how many people I have approached, including DNR officers, and sportsmens groups, and I have heard them say..."QDM, don't they just want to shoot all the does?". As you can tell, it really burns me!
 

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Boyd,

I wholeheartedly agree with you and making sure your population never exceeds carrying capacity is extremely important. Where the difference comes in though, in areas of extreme winter severity and an average high winter mortality, is that the deer herds can literally take years to recover. It is quite possible that areas of exteme winter mortality may go many years in between an actual needed antlerless harvest. There are areas still around my house that have been virtually devoid of deer since the 95-96 winters due to extemely high winter kills. Those areas will not recover until other areas become over-populated, a phenomenon that doesn't take place very often in these type of areas. That is why I am so adament that just about any antlerless harvest in these northern environments be handled very carefully. 1 year of overharvest, followed by a severe winter, can lead to shockingly drastic differences in population dynamics in just 1 year, and take a decade to recover. It's definately a different game up here, but you are right, it is always better to err on the side of caution anywhere, it's just that up here we seldom have to worry about it.
 

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Mich Buckmaster,

Be very careful at estimating deer numbers in the winter. Now is not the time to do it. I used to see 100-150 deer at a time in spring in the thumb, but it was due to winter thermal cover locations and leftover farmfields as opposed to actual population numbers. Not saying at all you don't have too many deer, but now is not generally the time to count. For example, on my property, if I counted deer now....It would be zero....does that mean I shouldn't shoot any does? ;)

Census figures should usually be tabulated late summer, early fall, when fawn recruitment can be evaluated, and then harvest quotas still set. Even in areas of very high populations, harvest objectives should still be set! That's QDM, collecting data, evaluating, and setting realistic and appropriate harvest goals.
 

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Basically, I stongly feel that Alshiemer, Durkin, Dougherty, etc., would be wrong and misled in their opinion of how to manage a true northern deer herd. For me, I'll stick with John Ozoga on this one.
Again, deer numbers do not rebound quickly on northern ranges, at all, and may not for years to come, and the 60% of carrying capacity is to insure you don't go over 100%, not that 60% is more healthy than 100%, because afterall, carrying capacity is just that....carrying capacity. I know of areas downstate that carry 60 deer per square mile and still have 2.2 fawns per doe, and extremely heavy deer with B&C potential bucks, managed by very well connected QDM advocates.....is the 60 deer 60% of carrying capacity?

Again, just to go out and harvest does with no respect to local population dynamics, in any area, doesn't really have much to do with science and QDM, and when someone asks you what your harvest strategy is, and you just say...shoot all does, it isn't very credible and gives QDM a bad name. Afterall, QDM is based on science and fact, not blanket harvest approaches and a "kill em all" mentality.

If you are just shooting every doe that moves you must know a few things, including:

Population
Carrying capacity
Harvest objectives

If you don't, there isn't much science in it, and you can't really call it "QDM".
 
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