DEER MANAGEMENT AND HUNTING TRADITION CAN COEXIST
People love to point fingers at everything that’s “wrong” with modern deer-hunting culture: food plots, trail cameras, leases, antler restrictions, bucks with names, and Quality Deer Management, to name a few. There was none of that mess back
in Granddaddy’s day, and the world was better because of it.
That’s actually nonsense. QDM works (the real QDM, which focuses on herd health and habitat, not just growing trophy bucks), and you need only look at the Southeast for proof. This region of the country was once known for deer dogging and crazy-high buck limits. These days, it’s not only the most active QDM region in the country, but it’s also the nation’s top region for deer hunting by almost every measure. Seven of the Quality Deer Management Association’s top 10 membership states are in the Southeast. (It probably helps that the QDMA was founded in South Carolina and is based in Georgia.)
So, starting with the numbers: Southern hunters like to shoot, so much so that they have killed more antlered deer, on average, than hunters in any other region over the past five years. Even if you took Texas out of that tally (where more hunters kill more deer than in any other state), the Southeast would still finish close behind the Midwest in average annual antlered deer take. The Southeast also has the highest deer harvest—bucks and does— per 100 hunters of any region in the country.
And yet they’re not just shooting any deer that walks: All of the top five states with the highest percentage of 3½-year-old (or older) bucks in the harvest are Southern states. Mississippi is leading the way, with 77 percent of its buck take recorded at 3½ years or older. And all the while, as hunting-license sales have declined nationwide, they’ve mostly held steady in the South—and in some states have even increased since 2011. With longer seasons, deer hunters in the Southeast are the most avid in the country too, logging more days afield per person than hunters in any other region.
So, adopting QDM principles, and the food plots and trail cams that have come with it, has resulted in more deer, bigger deer, and a robust hunting culture? Northerners might want to pay attention to what’s going on down there.
A giant from the Southeast, where Quality Deer Management practices have created better hunting.