John's Journal...

Deer Hunting Can Be Too Rulified

What QDMA Has Learned

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Perhaps deer hunting’s becoming too rulified with so many rules making the sport less fun for all of us. I’ve deer hunted all my life, as has my family. I went to the college I picked primarily because I belonged to a deer lease less than 15 minutes from my dormitory room. As far back as we have a family history, the men in our family always have hunted deer. That’s part of the reason I’ve examined the new idea that we all have to take monster bucks. I wonder if the resulting rules have made us lose some of the joy and fun that we once have delighted in while hunting deer.

Brian Murphy, a wildlife biologist and the executive director of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), explains that, “Any time there’s an attempt to continue to manage deer at a higher and even higher level to produce older-age-class bucks with better antler qualitieClick to enlarges, more regulations governing the taking of those bucks come into play. Sometimes hunting clubs and leases may find their rules can be counter-productive to the enjoyment and the success of the deer-hunting program. We’ve seen a few instances where this has occurred. Some of us within the quality deer-management arena call this quality deer-management burnout. We hear some hunters complain that deer hunting just isn’t as much fun as it once was.”

Murphy goes on to explain that when this happens he sees more and more hunting clubs deciding that:
* they won’t worry nearly as much as they once did when someone harvests a button buck;
* a younger hunter or a new hunter who wants to take an undersized buck needs the other hunters in the club to encourage him to do so;Click to enlarge
* their club needs to have the enjoyment and the thrill of taking deer return. Then all the members will have good times when they hunt as a part of quality deer management, rather than just seeing how many huge bucks the club can grow on the land it has to hunt.

“I agree there are a few people who have gone a little too far trying to raise big deer and not far enough on raising the enjoyment level of the sport of deer hunting,” Murphy says. Quality deer management includes planting warm-season and cool-season green fields, censusing the deer herd with cameras, having work days to improve the habitat, weighing every deer, pulling every jawbone and keeping up with all that data and all the other aspects of intensive deer management. Some hunters enjoy the management aspects of the sport far more than they do the actual hunting. But often a hunter may say, “Wait a minute, I’ve got a job already that I get paid to work at this hard. When I go hunting, I don’t want to work this hard just so I can take a buck with a few more inches of antlers.”

“I think when you take quality deer management too far, and for some people, it can become a distraction,” Murphy mentions. “I think most people enjoy going up the ladder of quality deer manageClick to enlargement. However, there may come a point where some hunters say, ‘This whole idea of quality deer management has gone too far for me. More-intensive deer management will take away my enjoyment of the sport of deer hunting.’ I believe that to have quality deer management, people should manage deer at a level that doesn’t distract or take away from their enjoyment of the sport of deer hunting.”

Murphy believes that a youngster or a new deer hunter needs to have a positive experience. If taking a doe will provide that positive experience, that’s fine. However, if taking a buck creates a stronger first experience for that deer hunter, then let that person take a young buck.

“These new hunters ought to be encouraged to take young bucks, and everyone in camp should rejoice when that young hunter brings in his first buck and be proud of the hunter for taking his first buck, “ Murphy says. “I bet you that 99% of the people managing for trophy bucks now took a young buck or several young bucks at the beginnings of their hunting careers. I think the idea that a new hunter has to start his deer-hunting career by harvesting a trophy buck is ludicrous.” 

Tomorrow: Where Hunters Get These Highly-Restrictive Rules


Check back each day this week for more about "Deer Hunting Can Be Too Rulified""

Day 1: The Real Story
Day 2: What Biologists Are Hearing from Hunters
Day 3: What QDMA Has Learned
Day 4: Where Hunters Get These Highly-Restrictive Rules
Day 5: The Rules Don’t Fit



Entry 425, Day 3