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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Quality Deer Management is catching on in Virginia as many hunters move beyond the old "shoot anything with horns" mentality.
Hunters are passing up smaller bucks, working to keep the doe population in balance and making improvements to wildlife habitat. All this is good news for sportsmen who believe they can enjoy a more rewarding hunting experience when the deer herd is healthy and the bucks are of an older-age structure.
Here are three recent developments on the QDM front:
"Our goals are to start a QDMA chapter in the area to help educate people about habitat improvements and hunting strategies, recruit new hunters and increase involvement in QDM," Crigger said.
The association was organized in 1988 with the mission of promoting QDM efforts across the country. It has six chapters in Virginia-- Dry Fork, Powhatan, Cedar Bluff, Stephens City and Star Tannery (Northern Shenandoah Valley)--and nearly 50,000-members nationwide.
Crigger has been a member for 13 of the 24 years he has hunted deer. Kegley has been a deer hunter 16 years and a QDMA member for two. Both have property where they practice wildlife habitat work.
"And we both enjoy habitat improvements as much as we do hunting," said Crigger, who is quick to point out that you don't have to own property to be a QDMA member.
All this will be explained at a meeting on June 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hollins Branch of the Roanoke County Public Library (6624 Peters Creek Road.)
While the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries endorses QDM on a volunteer basis, it has been slow to mandate APR. Currently, only two counties are involved.
In 2006, the first APR regulation in Virginia was established for Shenandoah County following strong support from QDM advocates in that area. Five years later, APR was applied to Rockingham County, again with help from QDM backers. Both counties require that one buck in a two-buck limit must have no less than four points on a side.
This was a compromise that provided QDM advocates some of what they wanted while giving other hunters, especially the young and the casual, a chance to kill a small buck.
The DGIF recently proposed that five additional counties-Alleghany, Bath, Highland, Augusta and Rockbridge--be under the same APR regulation this fall. The proposal is open for pubic comment www.HuntFishVa.com through the end of May and will be voted on June 22.
That many new counties in one pop indicates growing support among hunters for QDM and the DGIF is going along with at least basic APR rules. Support in Bath County is coming from the board of supervisors. The Alleghany Highland Chapter of the Virginia Deer Hunters Association is endorsing the concept in Alleghany, Highland and Bath counties. The DGIF staff recommended Augusta and Rockbridge counties.
The DGIF has come across in the past as being less than enthusiastic about QDM, but that isn't totally accurate, said Matt Knox, Virginia's deer project leader.
"I am a charter life member of the QDMA, so I obviously support the concept," he said. "A close personal friend of mine-Joe Hamilton-actually founded the ODMA in 1988 when I was working with him in South Carolina. I was a huge proponent of QDM then and I still am now.
"But I always have to qualify my support of QDM by noting that I support a more natural version practiced on a voluntary basis. I am not a fan of mandatory QDM regulations."
Knox said he parts company with QDM when it involves feeding deer, high fences and the philosophy that the worth of a deer is determined by how high the rack scores.
All these are significant indicators that QDM is capturing the attention of hunters in Virginia, and wildlife officials are taking note of that.
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