This is a technique that is only recommended in the most advanced deer management programs with extensive acreage, highly experienced hunters or professionally trained managers, and an actual surplus of adult bucks – situations that are extremely rare in North America. And in no free-roaming situation does this technique affect genetics, for better or worse.
Under Quality Deer Management, your goal is to build age structure, meaning you want to increase the numbers of bucks in older age classes. To achieve this goal, age is the best criteria to use when harvesting bucks; set an appropriate age-based harvest rule based on local herd conditions, hunter experience level, and hunter desires. The starting point is protecting most or all yearling bucks and harvesting bucks 2 1/2 or older, then adjust your target age upwards as you advance.
The minimum goal for all QDM programs is to protect most or all 1½-year-old (or “yearling”) bucks. If you have never killed a 2½-year-old buck and would be happy with this achievement first, this is where you should begin. Once this goal is met, you may wish to begin protecting 2½-year-old bucks as well, while trying to harvest a 3½-year-old... and so on. As long as you progressively improve the “age structure” of bucks (or the numbers of bucks in each age class), then the definition of a “quality” buck should be determined by your personal goals.
There are many benefits for hunters in a Quality Deer Management program.
What are some of the "general" Frequently Asked Questions?
The VDGIF advises hunters to follow these simple recommendations:
How can you tell if a deer has CWD?