Trophy Deer Management & QDM

To expand upon our last post of the role of harvesting wildlife, one of the ways that wildlife managers can manipulate hunting to influence wildlife populations is Trophy Deer Management and Quality Deer Management (QDM).

These obviously relate specifically to deer populations, but these large herbivores are one of your biggest revenue streams and need extensive management.

selective focus photography of brown buck on grass field
Photo by Steve on

Lets expand on these strategies and discuss the differences between these two management approaches:

  • Trophy Deer Management: A system that reduces pressure on bucks and increases harvest of does to allow male deer the opportunity to mature. Trophy deer management usually requires intensive management that inflates hunting costs.
    • Buck:Doe ratios should be 1:2 or less!

Trophy deer management is often done on private land involving supplemental feeding and a large financial investment and not typically undertaken by state fish and wildlife agencies. Programs are enforced by only permitting hunters to take bucks with a specific number of points (antler tines) or greater (e.g., can only take 10 points or better).


  • Quality Deer Management (QDM): A program that requires increasing the harvest of does, protecting yearling bucks, and maintaining a buck:doe ratio of 1:2.5 to 1:3.

QDM programs occur on both private and public lands. The QDM program is becoming increasingly more common on lands in the Southeast. Programs are typically enforced by only permitting hunters to take bucks of a certain age class, which is usually designated by the spread of the antler, e.g., hunters may only be able to take bucks with a 15 inch antler spread or better.


Both Trophy Deer Management and QDM require sex ratios which help maintain population density BELOW carrying capacity; balancing the provision of a suitable proportion of harvestable male deer with maintenance of an adequate number of does for recruitment purposes.

If done correctly, harvest activities should never threaten the survival of any wild animal population. But what about illegal, uncontrolled harvest activities? Next time we discuss poaching!

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