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Quality Deer Management on Private Land

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By: Kip Adams, Wildlife Biologist, Quality Deer Management Association and
Jeremy Hurst, Wildlife Biologist, NYSDEC

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Quality deer management (QDM) is a household name to modern day deer hunters but many don’t fully understand what QDM is. Quality deer management is a management approach that unites landowners, hunters, and resource managers in a common goal of producing healthy deer herds with balanced adult sex ratios and age structures. In simplest terms, QDM involves balancing the deer herd with the habitat and having deer—bucks and does—in multiple age classes. This is achieved by harvesting an appropriate number of female deer and by protecting young bucks.

Quality deer management involves four cornerstones: herd management, habitat management, hunter management and herd monitoring. Herd management involves harvesting an appropriate number of antlerless deer annually to balance the deer herd with the habitat and protecting young bucks to provide for balanced sex ratios and age structures. Habitat management involves managing and/or improving the habitat to provide abundant forage and cover. Fortunately, numerous other game and nongame species benefit from high-quality deer habitat. Hunter management involves educating sportsmen and sportswomen to be as knowledgeable about deer and habitat biology and management as possible. Informed sportsmen and sportswomen are more likely to be engaged in management programs and they’re typically better stewards of our natural resources. Herd monitoring is the final cornerstone and it involves collecting data (harvest, observation, survey, etc.) on the deer herd in order to make wise management decisions. To learn more about QDM, see www.qdma.com

How Can Dec Help Your Efforts To Manage Deer On Private Land?

Whether you want to implement a QDM program or simply want to change the way you hunt whitetails, DEC encourages landowners and hunters to take a proactive role in managing deer on your lands. Hunters are an essential part of effective deer management, and when hunters and landowners become more engaged in making management decisions for their lands, the deer, the habitat, the landowner and the hunter can all benefit. There is a wealth of information available today, including from organizations like the QDMA, that can help landowners and hunters better understand and carry out site specific deer management. And while there has been a great deal of recent discussion about buck harvest criteria in New York, hunters should never lose sight of the fact that appropriate doe harvest is the most important element of a good program.

Landowners and hunters have the most at stake and the best perspective of deer numbers and habitat quality on individual properties. While DEC staff can help, knowledgeable landowners and hunters play the primary role in developing and fine tuning management programs for individual properties. To learn about some of the ways DEC can assist your deer management efforts, check out the following::

Herd Management

Habitat Management

  • Develop a forest management plan for your property and take advantage of tax incentives and rebates while improving deer habitat.
  • Contact your regional DEC forester, or see www.dec.ny.gov/lands/4972.html for information on the EQIP Forestry Initiative, Forest Tax Law Program or the Cooperating Forester Program.

Hunter Management

Herd Monitoring

  • Contact your regional DEC deer biologist for guidance on collecting and interpreting your own deer herd data.
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