QDM: Quality Concept, Questionable Representation


I am a firm believer in Quality Deer Management (QDM) principles.  When necessary, I shoot my fair share (or at least try) of does, and I’ve made a personal decision to pass on year-and-a-half old bucks.  I believe these two things help to balance the deer herd and provide me with a better hunting experience, while increasing my chances of taking a wall-worthy buck.

Recently, though, individuals who claim to practice QDM have started to sour my view of the movement.

As I said before, I firmly believe in Quality Deer Management.  In the last few years, I’ve passed on many year-and-a-half old bucks – which left my freezer empty at times – since a doe never provided me with an opportunity.  But I’m fine with that.  It was a conscious decision I’ve made at this stage in my hunting career – I shot plenty of year-and-a-half old bucks back in the day – and I’m fine with that decision, since I believe it increases my chances of having an encounter with a mature deer in the future.

Many aren’t at that point in their deer hunting careers, though.

To criticize a new hunter, especially a young hunter, for shooting a perfectly legal deer, albeit a young one, is just foolish, crazy, and – quite frankly – makes you look like a jackass.  While I respect the logic behind your comments that you need to “let ’em grow”, trying to sway a young or inexperienced hunter into practicing QDM by degrading their first buck is a huge mistake.

And, more importantly, you should never, ever give a QDM lesson around a fresh kill.  I agree with your main points – except I believe a hunter’s first deer should be whatever he chooses to shoot, QDM be damned – but to try and sway an individual to your point of view while standing over a deer that they have shot legally, practiced for, and worked hard for, is plain wrong (On the other hand, having that conversation with a newer hunter, while holding onto the rack of a nice 130 you’ve let walk for the last couple of years, is fine in my book).

It seems that many individuals who practice QDM have lost sight of what QDM is really about – harvesting does, and protecting young bucks – and have become engrossed in the idea that QDM is only about shooting large, mature bucks; and they’ll stomp on whomever they believe will get in the way of that, regardless if it turns a young hunter away from hunting, and regardless if it ruins a relationship with a neighbor.

A deer should never ruin a friendship, but – unbelievably – deer hunting, and the differences in the way people choose to hunt, have led to just that.

I am not trying to paint the whole QDM movement with a broad brush, and I know that there are plenty of people involved in the QDMA organization – I’m friends with a few of them – who are great ambassadors for Quality Deer Management as a whole.  But I’m afraid the few bad apples I’ve mentioned above – the guys and gals who think that their way of deer hunting is better than others, and whom believe Quality Deer Management is only about shooting large bucks – are pushing those who believe in Quality Deer Management in general away from participating in the movement at all.

And that’s really too bad, because the science and principals behind Quality Deer Management are sound; some of the outspoken representatives of the movement, however, are not.






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  • Arthur

    I always read and never post but this is a something I cant hold back on.

    You hit the nail on the head. Each person hunts for a different reason. Some simply for food, some for that huge buck while others couldn’t care less if they ever pull a trigger and just love the experience of being out there. I have witnessed this first hand so many times before. A hunter takes a buck and someone else gives him every reason why he shouldn’t have shot it. Later on the same guy who ridiculed the hunter about his deer ( which was a 3-4 yr old 10 pt ) shoots a year old 4 pt. Is this OK? yes it is! Only if he would not have been such a tool and congratulated the man on a nice buck earlier in the year. So who is the jackass now?

    Whatever motivates you to hunt is your choice. It don’t matter if it is huge racks that get you out of bed at 5 am or just some fresh back straps. You only need to satisfy yourself. Take what the deer gods offer up and make what you will with it, chances are it will be a different outcome with each an every hunter. The only time it is wrong is if you think you know the answer as to why everyone else should hunt.


  • I agree with you, let the young hunters enjoy taking their deer and congratulate them. We need to all be happy they are out hunting and not out getting into trouble, the QDM will come if we get them interested at an early age they are more likely to love it forever!

  • Agree with your points about youth hunters and first timers.
    I have yet to find anyone involved in QDM that would ridicule a youth hunter or young hunter for shooting a 1.5 yr. old buck. QDM is something you grow into, and there are those that don’t mind jumping right in and pass young bucks right away. There are those that keep raising the bar on there harvest. Some feel that that this bunch fall into the elitest crowed. Not so, they are just deeper into the QDM process and feel it serves the herd better to yet have older deer in the herd.

  • Hello,

    Although I have no official position in the QDMA organization I do represent them in some forums and know many of its leadership. I can tell you first hand that not one of them would criticize anybody let alone a kid for shooting a young deer. In fact it has been my experience to be just the opposite, they have even recently started up a new program focusing on and working with children. I myself took three youths out this year and we went 2 for 3 one being a six point and the other a button buck. If you know of or have heard of anyone in a leadership position demeaning anyone for shooting a legally taken animal please contact me at ctchrysler@yahoo.com and I will look into it.

    That being said, I feel your frustration, hunters are a crazy opinionated group to say it mildly.lol QDM seems to have become a generic and bastardized term it takes on a different meaning to almost anyone you speak with. I believe a lot of it falls on TV, Jackwagons as you call them pushing trophy management and our QDMA leadership for not clearly stating our mission and distinguishing between QDM and trophy management.

    I spend a lot of time talking with deer hunters hear in Michigan and across the country and to be honest I never saw much of what you are referring to until I got on Facebook.lol Even then it just seems to be one or two people here or there, but with just a few bad comments it brings on a fire storm that quickly gets out of hand. I contact these people and do my best to explain the negative impact that they are having, some get it and some tell me to go to hell.lol

    I guess what I ask is if you believe in QDM and the QDMA philosophy be an ambassador for the organization and try to correct those that are bastardizing the message. Don’t argue with them, but explain in a cordial manner what the consequences of their actions are. We as representatives of the organization can’t police all our members or actions of anyone who happens to mention QDM in a negative light. We must have members as yourself help police ourselves.

    Thanks for your time.

    Have a good day, Chad

  • I whole heartedly agree with this Blog. I teach hunter education and teach and take women hunters out hunting. Not everyone has perfect land to hunt. I believe a first deer should be what the hunter chooses to shoot,especially when it comes to bow hunting, as long as it’s legal.How can you get the confidence to shoot a big deer if you have never shot any deer. I agree with the aspect of QDM, but not the hard rules that makes it tough to get new hunters in the field. As far as standing over a first kill and criticizing, SHUT UP and congragulate the hunter on a fine hunt.

  • Kelly,

    I completely agree. Thanks for commenting. Hopefully we’ll see you all next year at Hiawatha.

  • Chad,

    I don’t believe that everyone who practices QDM ridicules, but – unfortunately – I’ve seen it firsthand too many times – and they didn’t spare a youth hunter from the ridicule either.

    And while I do believe that the QDM movement as a whole would support a young hunter shooting whatever they choose to shoot, articles such as this one – posted right on the QDMA website within their Study Materials – would lead me to believe that a number of the members do not support a first-time hunter in killing whatever age/sex deer they have an opportunity for.

    I do support the QDM principles – in fact, I’ve passed on 3 year and half old bucks just this year, and my freezer is still empty – but I still feel that certain individuals – and there seem to more than I would like – are really turning the general public away from practicing in the sound scientific principals behind the movement.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  • Brian,

    Well, apparently we hang out in much different places then, because I’ve ran into, and had many encounters with, hunters online who definitely ridiculed a young hunter’s first buck – which was bigger than any buck I’ve ever harvested, by the way. It was awful, and it was what inspired me to write the post. And, the article I posted above doesn’t help to back up the position you’re taking either, unfortunately.

    Don’t get me wrong, though, I don’t think that all QDM individuals fall into this mold – I’m friends with many who don’t, and I’m one myself – but I think overall that these few “bad apples” are truly ruining the movement for the rest of us.

    I do think that QDM is something you grow into. I have grown into it myself, and it’s definitely a process that you go through. But I’m afraid that these young hunters, who are being ridiculed after shooting the first buck of their lives, are going to choose not to ever grow into the movement, because they will have been turned off by it at an early age.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  • Arthur,

    I have no problem with what BSK and Dr.Woods are saying it’s a philosophy and one that makes sense in my eyes, it’s one that I would apply to my children. That being said I have taken many kids hunting and let them make their choice as far as harvest decisions, some have chosen to pass on young bucks and some have not it’s their call. Does it hurt my goals, ya probably, but I have multiple places to hunt with a healthy population and contrary to what my wife might say It’s not all about me.

    I don’t see either of them making disparaging remarks or talking down the children, just another point of view on how to introduce children to hunting and hunting education.

    As one poster stated on the other site, the internet is ripe for disparaging comments. It seems, just like everything else in life that negatives trump positives you see it everyday in the news. A holes are A holes and always will be, they are everywhere in all walks of life and unfortunately they seem to get the publicity. Probably the reason why they are A holes to begin with, they need attention and we give it to them.

    Poachers, slobs, and violators give us as hunters a terrible name and it is always an up hill battle to convince the masses that we as a majority are not like that, but it often falls on deaf ears, just because of one persons bad experience with an A hole they will always have a bad taste in their mouth. Should I/we bash or abandon the hunting community that we so strongly believe in, just because we have had a bad experience with a so called hunter/sportsman? Or do we take a step back, look at the situation and try to do our best to improve it?Now ask the same question about QDM or the QDMA.

    We need more people like you to stand up and stop A holes from being A holes and when you can’t, explain to others the merits of QDM despite such A holes. I guess what I’m saying is don’t give up on principals and merits that you believe in, because some A holes pissed you off fight back against them and be a solid advocate of your beliefs.

    Thanks again for your time, Chad

  • Great post Chad

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