Buck Hollow Sporting Goods - click or touch to visit their website Midwest Habitat Company

Thoughts on QDM (Quality Deer Management) in Iowa?????????????

Big Timber

I just wanted to get opinions on QDM in Iowa. Do you think it is important?

Those of us who live in IA know that we are living in one of the best deer hunting states in North America. We produce quality deer year after year. Do you think QDM would be helpful, or do you think it is unneccesary because of the deer we are producing.

I would love to hear your comments and opinions on this one.

I think as more people start to practice QDM in Iowa the average size of our deer will improve.

QDM will work in Iowa but it will be difficult in some locations.

If you are a small landowner with less than 100 acres, and no one else around you is a QDM'er, it will be tough to see results. If you own more ground, or have like minded neighbors, I'm sure QDM will reward you.

In Iowa, protecting bucks before they reach their potential, adequate doe harvest, and sanctuaries are a critical parts of a QDM program. I believe developing sanctuaries to be as important as identifying which bucks to harvest.

We have all seen those little brushy spots that deer seek refuge in during our shotgun seasons. After two or three days of deer drives, they are always loaded with deer trying to find a place to stay alive. We are fortunate to have short shotgun seasons after the rut. If you can give those young bucks a place to hide during that period, and survive non-selective shotgun hunters that may be in your neighborhood, you will have a successful QDM program on your land. This probably means going to extreme measures to not disturb the deer on your land for three weeks, but that's what a successful QDM program requires in most parts of Iowa.

In my opinion, tall, warm season, native grasses make the best spots for a buck to survive the gun seasons. For this reason I would try to establish a native grass area, or several if you have room, in your sanctuaries on QDM farms.

The soils we have, the variety of habitats with lots of edge, the abundance of food, the relatively short, mild winters, the absence of significant predators, the genetics of our deer, and the limited firearm seasons make Iowa a fantastic state to grow big deer. Add QDM to that mixture and our deer are going to become really impressive.

Iowa is a state that's well suited for QDM, as more landowners participate in it, the quality of our deer will become incredible.
Can't say it any better than FarmlandQDM already did, I agree with what he wrote. A couple of other complimentary thoughts are...

In addition to the grass fields for sanctuary, consider picking an out of the way place and slicing a few trees about waist high and letting them lay over. This does a few things: it creates a snarly snag that is good bedding cover, it opens up the canopy and lets light hit the floor to spark growth and the manipulated tree(s) itself can be left living too. This can be done easily in many areas, but is a particularly effective enhancement to otherwise low use areas like isolated ditches, etc.

Also, whereas not everyone is "enlightened" or committed to QDM principles, if you can only get the "neighbors" to lay off the 1 1/2 year old bucks you will soon start to see bigger bucks on both sides of the fence. Sure there is more to QDM than that, but if you can only get one message across to someone who has been "deer huntn" for 30 years that would be my choice. IMO if the 18 month old bucks do not get shot, there will always be enough recruitment into the older age classes as the bucks wise up with each passing year and kind of take care of themselves to a large degree. Casual deer hunters do not harvest a high percentage of 2 1/2 year old and especially older bucks from what I can gather in my observations.
I think hunting in general has turned for the better leaning towards QDM. Every magazine you read these days are preaching the benefits of QDM and all the stories are leaned towards top end bucks. I think the wheels are turning in everyones head about producing better and more quantity of quality bucks. With the abundance of doe tags we have now, it eliminates alot of the older does that produce twins and leans towards the younger does producing only one fawn a year. Hopefully making better buck to doe ratios and eliminating the so called deer herd problem. I think there is really no set definition to QDM. To me it would be taking out deer in your herd to try to balance the buck to doe ratio and help the quality of bucks that you are satisfied in harvesting. Whether that means you are satisfied with 140 class bucks or 180 class bucks on your land. I've talked to alot of guys on this site and alot want the monster 170+ class bucks which I dont blame them everyone does. In contrast I've talked to others that would be tickled to death with a 140 class buck. So that creates a controversy. If you had two guys living next to eachother and one was satisfied with 140 and the other wanted nothing less than 170 it would create a controversy and the one would complain about people shooting small bucks and the other would be completely satisfied and claim how well QDM works. I think Iowa is great and the Quality bucks are everywhere, I just think QDM means different things to different people.
another thing that is kind of strange to me is you can get 3 buck tags if you are a landowner. If one guy went out and shot 3 150 class bucks practicing QDm opposed to a guy going out and shooting 3 year and half old bucks. the Guy shooting the 1.5 year olds would get ridiculed for shooting what he did, and the other would be the man for getting the big ones. But if you stop and think about it Who's land would you rather hunt the next year? I would rather hunt the guy shooting the 3 1.5 year olds land simply because the 150 class bucks that were there are gonna be bigger this year. If the other guy is shooting all the 150 class bucks where is the chance for the 170 class bucks. so after all this rambling I think it's great that we have a mix of Qdmers and non Qdmers simply of the fact I think for it to work effectively all age classes of deer have to be shot every year.
Great responses.
I agree 100% with what you guys posted. QDM lies in the eye of the beholder. There is a different QDM strategy for every person and or tract of land. In my opinion, you don't even need to own land to practice it. If you set goals, and somewhat accomplish them, you are successful in QDM.
I don't practice QDM for the sole reason of harvesting a larger buck. While this might be a goal for me (like most), I just love whitetail hunting. Whatever I can do to get involved in the sport, I'm going try it.
We do have a lot of strong attributes in IA to produce incredible deer, but imagine what it would be like if our state was border to border qdm managers. Unreal.
I think more deer hunters are taking the sport seriously, and getting more involved in land sewardship. Respecting wild game, and doing all we can to preserve them will be beneficial to all of us.
I hope we can get our QDMA chapter rolling in IA. I know there are many members on this site that practice and believe in QDM and are willing to be a part of it. Central Iowa QDMA will be having our first meeting sometime this month. Dates are pending, but we are leaning towards the 13th and 14th of this month. Dan Lokken, Midwest Representative of QDMA, will be putting on a short seminar/informative speech about QDMA. I would urge anyone to come and check it out.

I will let everyone know the dates for sure ASAP. As soon as I find out, I will post it in multiple forums.


I would like to see more involved in QDM. It can educate those who like to hunt even those who have hunted for years. I have spoke with those who want to take a big buck but also want the meat. To me if that is the case then hold off on those 1 1/2 or 2 1/2 year old bucks and wait until they grow up to harvest them. If you are going to cut off the antlers and throw them in the back of the shop then why shoot him. The meat of a young doe is so much better anyway so take a doe. Maybe next year that 125 class buck will be a 145 or bigger. How many times have you heard someone say " Oh I just shot a little 6 or 8 pointer this year, nothing big". I want to say to them well then why did'nt you take a doe then , next year he might have been a "shooter". I have said this to a couple of my friends and they too now agree and go by this thinking. I'm not saying my way is the right way but it makes sense to me. If I'm not going to mount it I don't shoot it as far as bucks go. If someone is starting out bow hunting I would say shoot the first thing that offers you a good shot but after that be more selective in what you harvest. QDM only takes a few years to develop and once people understand that holding off on young bucks and harvesting the right does can make a huge difference in the quality of your deer heard they too might come aboard. QDM-----give it a try!!!!
Very true Q,
It's always the same story, different year. To some people size/sex has no importance. Those are the people that we need to work on. You have to remember that it is their choice to shoot whatever they want as long as their tag permits. I don't think these people have a strong passion for whitetails. It makes sense to me, if you want the meat...take the doe. The DNR is pushing for more doe harvests to thin the pop, so it's clear what needs to be done. I wouldn't be surprised to see some tag changes soon if we don't eat what they put on our plate.

I think that QDM will work even on small plots of land- you may not see the full benefit because the neighbors will shoot those deer that do range too far. Pennsylvania hunters are seeing the benefit of restrictions already- that could also be an idea in Iowa but I would like to see the DNR start everyone with a doe tag to be filled before another tag is issued for any sex. Just another way to force the issue, it would keep the farmers and insurance companies happy.
Wouldn't it be great if just the first day of shotgun season 1 was doe only and then anysex would start the second day. Just imagine what this would do for our buck population if they just had one day to get a little more educated. I would like more but I think this would be an option that might have a slim chance of passing through the governing body that controls our deer herd, the Iowa legislature, not the Iowa DNR.

I know the DNR has there backs against the wall with deer management in Iowa and there is tremendous pressure to open the seasons up and make them more liberal than they presently are. Which would probably mean longer shotgun seasons. I hope this never happens. Lobbies are strong in Des Moines to not allow any sort of game law change that has even the perception of restricting the deer harvest. This is why a few years ago the DNR deer check-in requirement was yanked at the last moment. This would have been a good move towards better doe management, improved deer harvest data, and greater protection of a world class natural resource.

With the pressure to reduce the herd, the DNR might be able to sell the idea to the legislature that we need to kill does the first day of shotgun season before they get educated.

Think of how many shotgun hunters we all know that hunt the first day or two for bucks only, then start shooting does to fill there tags after 3 or 4 days or don't shoot them at all. If they are forced to only shoot does the first day, more does won't get a chance to get educated and think of all the quality bucks that will get an early warning to go underground. This one little change would be the only change to our deer seasons, that would have a huge positive impact, and still have a slight chance of passing in the Iowa legislature, as forced doe harvest. I guarantee this will upset many shotgun hunters, and may never pass.

I wish the Iowa DNR had the power to manage the deer herd in Iowa, but the the fact is they can only make deer management recomendations and can't make deer management laws.
I have hunted in the CWD zone in southern Wisconsin and you have to shoot a doe before you can even get a buck tag in that area. So when you buy a tag you get an anterless one, and then have to earn a buck tag. I like this law and from what I have seen it works very well up there.
From what I see of the bucks that come into the lockers & the tiny racks on the walls, I think we should have better antler restrictions.
Our buck to doe ratio is pathetic up here. Almost everything w/ an antler sticking out of it's head gets shot.
I wish we could get more hunters to pass on the small bucks & take a doe instead. In 2 to 3 years most of these bucks would have very respectable racks. And w/ all the different food varietys available it doesn't take long to grow a nice rack in Iowa.
What bowhunt said above should be that way everywhere in my opinion......even for the Non-residents hunting thru outfitters or leased ground. Real problem when you have as mant NR as IL and IA coming in to take out a buck.....should make it a little tougher. In hunting IA this year, I would have been up to it.
I was working on a big long post to defend my position but I will post a condensed version. In my opinion, QDM is not necessary in Iowa. It should be encouraged but the deer you shoot if legal should be your choice. It does nothing for the health of the herd. It does quite a lot for the number of mature bucks but some people don't care as much as most of us here about having that. As much as I hate to say it, we are the minority. The proof is on the floors of any deer locker on any day of any season. Plus, if the whole state practices it, we know what the possible benefits are but have you thought about what the potential problems might be? Practice it and try to educate your neighbors to do it too but hope for the rest of the state to not practice it.
150 class,

OK, you've got me curious. What are the potential problems if most hunters in Iowa decided to use qdm practices?

Old Buck
To me QDM stands for whitetail education, harvesting does, improving habitat, providing additional food sources and yes harvesting older bucks. I believe all of these, especially the emphasis on harvesting does, increases the health of herd even in Iowa.

QDM is not "Trophy Buck" management in theory however you will find some parallel motives.

I've seen the mindsets of hunters changing throughout the years - the progression of a hunter and the quarry they seek with a focus on older bucks. Even if it's passing 1 1/2 to shoot a 2 1/2 year old buck.

A trophy buck is ultimately up to the hunter and should be celebrated by all.

The negative effects a "Trophy emphasis" would be that we are not celebrating someone's prize harvest because it did not meet our own standards.

Just my opinion
A big problem I would see, and I think it might be what 150class was going towards, is leasing and outfitters. I by no means have the best places to hunt, but I make due and I am happy that I at least have a place to go. If it werent for farmers who didnt give a rip about QDM, than I would be out of luck. Shoot a couple of does and they are happy. I just have to work a little harder than the next guy. I practice QDM at a personal level but by no means do I see it as a good thing for everyone. Alot of people would lose spots real fast.
150 class ... I disagree .... QDM has everything to do with "herd health" ... large mature bucks are the bi-product of herd health!
Potential problems? Scott was correct. The main thing in one word would be "competition".

Farmland - I would disagree with you and say that big bucks are the result of genetics, food and age. Selective harvest does nothing for the first two unless you are culling the inferior bucks and I doubt if many of us are doing that. Age is the result of that selective harvest and does not improve herd health.
We will not have to worry about competition, leasing, outfitters and nonresidents as long as the state keeps the NR tags restricted.

State wide QDM would be a great thing!

Heard health is simply a matter of keeping the population well within the carrying capacity of the land. Having a mandatory doe harvest in order to get a buck tag would be a great way to keep the population down while improving the sex ratio of the deer herd, which would also increase the number of mature bucks. Why would we NOT want QDM practiced on a state wide level?
Top Bottom