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#283457 - 06/30/07 10:38 AM Measures of QDM "success"
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
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Registered: 03/11/99
Posts: 65642
Loc: Nashville, TN

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This is a topic I've wanted to discuss for some time, but didn't really have the data to prove my point. However, as more detailed GPS-collar data is becoming available, I think I can post this with some conviction.

What should be used as a measure of QDM success for a given property? In the traditional sense, herd health indicators, especially deer body weights by age and buck antler development by age has been used, as well as fawn recruitment numbers, buck age structure numbers, sex ratio numbers, etc.

However, all of this is based on the idea that you are looking at the same group of deer that live on a given property from year to year. Now this very well may be the case on very large properties, say of several thousand acres. But what about the small properties, such as those of 1,000 acres or less? And more importantly, what about properties of a square mile (640 acres) or less? How many individual deer are you actually "raising" from birth to death on a property of 640 acres or less? I'll bet the answer is very, very few.

From what I've been seeing of the more detailed long-term GPS-collar information that is becoming available, there appears to be a lot more "shifting" of ranges from birth to death than was originally assumed. This is especially true of bucks. When you consider the Yearling Buck Dispersal (YBD) process, shifting seasonal ranges, and highly variable rut-season ranges for individual bucks, how many of the mature bucks that might be photographed on a 640 acre or smaller property in a given fall season were actually born on that property? I'll bet the answer is near zero. The vast, vast majority of those bucks come from "somewhere else." If that is the case, does the condition of those bucks mean anything about the management of the property? Nope, at least not health-wise.

And although does are more "home-bodies" than bucks, often living their entire lives in their birth range, on smaller properties that have implemented intense doe harvests, from year to year how many of the does seen and harvested from the property have actually lived their entire lives on that property? When small properties hit the doe population hard, reproduction does increase, but if does are not being hit hard on surrounding properties, doe groups from those surrounding properties will shift their range into the managed property to take advantage of the "gaps" in habitat utilization produced by the doe harvests. This means you do have "resident" does born on the managed property, but you also have a considerable number of "immigrant" does that have shifted into the property from surrounding properties as adults. So health conditions of the immigrant does do not provide a measure of herd health from the managed property, and there is no way to tell the difference between a resident doe and an immigrant doe.

So now we have this established "paradigm" of QDM success based on improvements in herd structure and health that may simply not be true on smaller properties. The deer using a particular smaller property during the hunting season--especially the mature deer of both sexes--may not be the product of the local habitat. Many of those deer spent at least some of their life, if not the majority, "somewhere else."

If this is the case, what should be used as a measure of success on smaller properties?
_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#283484 - 06/30/07 11:10 AM Re: Measures of QDM "success" [Re: BSK]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19395
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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Very good and interesting post, BSK.

 Originally Posted By: BSK
What should be used as a measure of QDM success for a given property? In the traditional sense, herd health indicators, especially deer body weights by age and buck antler development by age has been used, as well as fawn recruitment numbers, buck age structure numbers, sex ratio numbers, etc.

However, all of this is based on the idea that you are looking at the same group of deer that live on a given property from year to year. But what about the small properties, such as those of 1,000 acres or less? And more importantly, what about properties of a square mile (640 acres) or less? How many individual deer are you actually "raising" from birth to death on a property of 640 acres or less? I'll bet the answer is very, very few.

I'll guarantee you the answer is almost none on properties of 640 acres of less; and less than 1% of male deer that live past 18 months of age. (Saying this as an average across the Southeast, although there will be some exceptions, say where you have a smaller patch of habitat surrounded by industry & subdivisions. In this case, don't think you could really call these "free-roaming" deer as the surrounding development acts much like a high fence?)


 Originally Posted By: BSK
If this is the case, what should be used as a measure of success on smaller properties?

I wise man once told me,
"Seldom ask a question for which you don't already know the answer."

So, I assume you have at least part of the answer to this question? ;\)

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#283497 - 06/30/07 11:26 AM Re: Measures of QDM "success" [Re: Wes Parrish]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19395
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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BSK,

Really glad you made this post, as it's of particular interest to me, since most hunters who are able to do any "management" at all are in fact doing it on properties of 640 acres or less.

One thing not mentioned above that also comes into play:
Male deer (somewhere between 6 months & 18 months of age) typically disperse over 1 mile from their birthplace, which would cause most male fawns born on any square mile to nearly always establish a new "home" range outside the square mile (640 acres area) in which they were born.

On the other hand, most adult bucks that have a home range or seasonal core area within any particular square mile were not born on that area. This means that most of your adult bucks on a small property did not have the healthy start on life that would be given by very healthy female deer to their fawns.

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#283511 - 06/30/07 11:44 AM Re: Measures of QDM "success" [Re: Wes Parrish]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19395
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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I'm hoping your discussion topic becomes many pages of critical thinking and discussion from many hunter/managers as well at the many TWRA and other game agency and private deer managers who are reading these forums (yet seldom post).

I'll interject one more thought, and then just sit back and listen for a while.

The fact that on smaller properties there are so many deer "coming & going" means that even a small documented improvement by the traditional herd health indicators could mean the impact of your "deer management" on a small property is profound and much more dramatic than can be easily measured.


In fact, many of those deer migrating in from surrounding properties have in some way benefited from your property's management. So one of the standards for comparison (the herd health outside your boundaries) is also improving, thus maybe causing your comparative data to appear little better than the surrounding property. Or maybe, if you're surrounded by poor management, your improvements may be hard to measure at all.

In my case, I like to compare my property's management to the surrounding county. But as TWRA's countywide deer management has become more sound (biologically), some of the standards for comparison are changing, too. And along this line of thought, if you were surrounded by very poor deer management, someone could successfully argue that your management makes little difference, as their management overrides it?

For example, if you have a perfect square of one square mile (640 acres), then in every direction from your perimeter boundaries and going exactly 1 mile, the surrounding 1 mile consists of over 3,000 acres. Or looking another way, if you stand in the very middle of your 640-acre property and draw a circle around you, going 1.5 miles in every direction, your property accounts for less than 25% of the acreage in that circle.

So is it worth your efforts to do anything better at all on a small property?

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#283618 - 06/30/07 02:32 PM Re: Measures of QDM "success" [Re: Wes Parrish]
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
Non-Typical


Registered: 03/11/99
Posts: 65642
Loc: Nashville, TN

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Wes,

I'm not sure biological "health" indicators will be useful at all for small-land management. Too much of individual animal health on a given small property are the product of habitat "somewhere else."

I believe other factors will have to be looked at, although those other factors will still have a link to the habitat of the managed property. And I say that because I still believe deer "choose" to utilize a given area during the fall and early winter (hunting season) because of local habitat conditions.
_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#283638 - 06/30/07 02:57 PM Re: Measures of QDM "success" [Re: BSK]
Kirk
Cerebral Assassin
16 Point


Registered: 08/07/01
Posts: 10373
Loc: Cleveland, TN USA

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It will be interesting to see the results around my home over the next few years. Last year our 1300 acre Bowater lease was sold.

We had lobbied all the adjoining large landholders to set similar restrictions as we had on the lease. I estimate we had around 3,500 acres under our very archaic form of QDM. It worked well for five years. The rack sizes steadily increased as did the deer numbers. We hammered does for the final three years and almost completely eliminated daylight doe activity. The cameras revealed a lot of does were still present and we awere able to show the naysayers. On the flip side we saw lots of bucks during daylight hours. It was the golden days of deer hunting around here.

Since the core area has been sold, bulldozed and lotted off I suspect we will see a steady decline in quality and numbers over the next two seasons due to the uncontrolled areas. I hope I am wrong.

So to me, the measure of our QDM success was in the stories told by local hunters and farmers. The smiles and gleaming eyes as they told about seeing really big bucks for the first time in their lives.
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I make good money, I help the Family, but one thing must be understood, I would never go against the Godfather. Ruger is a man I respect. Luca Brasi

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#283770 - 06/30/07 05:11 PM Re: Measures of QDM "success" [Re: BSK]
BigGameGuy
TWRA Biologist
12 Point


Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 6617
Loc: Nashville

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 Originally Posted By: BSK
If this is the case, what should be used as a measure of success on smaller properties?


If at the end of the year you say to yourself, "Man that was a good year," your QDM program was 100% success.

(Not the scientific answer you want to hear Bryan but it may be the most applicable.)
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If given the choice between education and regulation, I'll choose education every time.

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#283808 - 06/30/07 05:51 PM Re: Measures of QDM "success" [Re: BigGameGuy]
UPSman
TnDeer Old Timer
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Registered: 08/29/99
Posts: 7516
Loc: Powell Tn

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 Originally Posted By: BigGameGuy
 Originally Posted By: BSK
If this is the case, what should be used as a measure of success on smaller properties?


If at the end of the year you say to yourself, "Man that was a good year," your QDM program was 100% success.

(Not the scientific answer you want to hear Bryan but it may be the most applicable.)

Then we had an awesome year at Cathole last season!
_________________________
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." --Benjamin Franklin


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#283831 - 06/30/07 06:26 PM Re: Measures of QDM "success" [Re: UPSman]
richmanbarbeque
16 Point


Registered: 07/17/03
Posts: 12784
Loc: Middle, Tn

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 Originally Posted By: UPSman
 Originally Posted By: BigGameGuy
 Originally Posted By: BSK
If this is the case, what should be used as a measure of success on smaller properties?


If at the end of the year you say to yourself, "Man that was a good year," your QDM program was 100% success.

(Not the scientific answer you want to hear Bryan but it may be the most applicable.)

Then we had an awesome year at Cathole last season!




I agree. QDM for me has changed. It started as the deer I can't shoot, Now it is the deer I get to shoot. If given the oppurtunity. Because of QDM I have passed to many bucks in the last 2 years to count. I have learned from observation, a very valuable tool.

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#284014 - 06/30/07 08:59 PM Re: Measures of QDM "success" [Re: richmanbarbeque]
deerchaser007
10 Point


Registered: 12/17/02
Posts: 4260
Loc: Bradyville, TN USA

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If this is the case, what should be used as a measure of success on smaller properties

answer,..... the pride and joy you feel inside knowing you have done something good for the wildlife that does come across your place and the wildlife into the future for hunting of those after us.

I know i only have 85 acres and that i am not accomplishing a great deal ,.. but i enjoy doing it. AND,.. hopefully as i keep going, i will encourage others in my area to do the same,.. in turn ,. over time,.. as a whole,.. many hunters and myself will benefit from the work we have done and keep the wildlife and the hunting tradition going strong into the future.

Thats how i would measure success.

Off topic of deer,... i can tell i have ( just on 85 acres) had a positive effect on other wildlife. Especially turkey. 6 years ago it was a battle just even getting to see a turkey. NOW,... i see turkey EVERY time i enter the farm. As a avid turkey hunter ,.. i could not be more pleased. The plots and the habitat improvements alone created more food and especially better nesting for hens. In turn,. has made for more birds in the area.
Thats a measure of success.

Very informative post and will get alot of folks to thinking if what they are doing is helping in any way for deer. The way i see it,.. someone has to set the example and soon ,.. others will follow. Maybe not all,.. but enough to have a impact. So, for all you small property managers out there,.. don't give up hope. This is just another reason the QDMA expresses the need for cooperatives between land owners. Work with your neighbors ,.. and change can occur.

Just my opinion though........Its not science,.. but a honest opinion.
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QDMA member...Cannon co.
Guard your tongue in youth,.. and in age you may mature a thought that will be of service to your people!!
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