Hook and bullet club: Choosing the big buck

by Nick Wognum

Busted. Troy saw my column on the trail cameras and sent me his response. Not only does he get to test the cameras for the company he works for in west central Wisconsin, he’s also part of the QDM movement. <BR><BR>According to the QDMA web site, “Quality Deer Management is a management philosophy/practice that unites landowners, hunters, and managers in a common goal of producing biologically and socially balanced deer herds within existing environmental, social, and legal constraints.”<BR><BR>What does that mean? Well basically it means deer hunters need to be more selective if they want to be able to shoot quality deer. You let the young bucks and spikes go and take a doe now and then instead of shooting anything with antlers. <BR><BR>QDM has a lot of merit and works well in areas where landowners and land managers agree on how the area should be managed for deer. Up in our neck of the woods, where public land outnumbers private acres, QDM is tougher to achieve overall.<BR><BR>That doesn’t mean that hunters can’t practice QDM on their own. And actually trail cameras can play a role in this. <BR><BR>This is how Troy sees it:<BR><BR>“Here’s where I think trail cameras will benefit deer herds. They will allow hunters to see the large deer that are in their hunting area and hopefully encourage some QDM. I think most hunters will be surprised by the number of nice bucks in their area. I know I sure was. <BR><BR>“As far as the taboo issue, I can’t see how anybody would complain about seeing the pictures of deer they have. It doesn’t mean they have to shoot one of them, they can still shoot any deer that walks by. And there are issues when you see a nice buck walk out but it’s not as big as one you took a picture of. Sure, it’s called a lack of patience!!! <BR><BR>“I watched probably 10 different bucks last fall at 15-20 yards during bow season. There were even several nice eight pointers among them but none of them were the guy I had a picture of posted on my fridge. And when I did finally get the opportunity at him, I missed! <BR><BR>“Oh well, that’s why it is called hunting, not killing! Nothing is guaranteed. But, I did get the opportunity and that’s what mattered to me. Granted, some of the sting was gone when I shot an even bigger one the next weekend with rifle. <BR><BR>“I suppose some people may say that they are the lazy man’s way to hunt, don’t have to scout, etc. But I am in the woods three to four times a week right now moving cameras, changing cards, patterning deer, etc.<BR><BR>“I think they are just another tool for scouting. And you need to know where to put them otherwise you’ll be very disappointed in their performance, especially after dishing out $400+ for one. But for me, they really get me more excited for the season to start!<BR><BR>“The guy I’ve been watching is starting to disappoint me though. I think he’s peaking soon. I was hoping for at least a 10 out of him at maybe an 18 inch spread and I think he’ll stay an eight at 16 inches or so. No slouch yet but I had hoped he was the real wide eight that I missed last year. We’ll see, maybe a growth spurt yet. I’d also like to see him get taller!”<BR><BR>Well, Troy has the right idea and the time to be able to go out in his hunting area on a regular basis and put the trail cameras to work. <BR><BR>Come this fall we’ll have to run the idea of putting out a trail camera up the flag pole at Camp Cholesterol and see what kind of response there is. <BR><BR>Of course we could pass the hat and see who wants to help pay the $400, that might be a better way to find out what the guys think.