Deer hunters who participate in Quality Deer Management (QDM) Cooperatives enjoy nearly twice the level of hunting satisfaction that other deer hunters experience, according to new research from Michigan State University (MSU) that appears in an upcoming issue of QDMA’s Quality Whitetails magazine.
MSU graduate student Anna Mitterling surveyed 350 members of 16 different QDM Cooperatives covering 90,000 acres in south central Michigan for her Master’s thesis in Fisheries and Wildlife. She found satisfaction levels among the hunters increased from 45 percent before to 75 percent after they became involved in a QDM Cooperative. That’s much higher than the 46 percent satisfaction rate among all Michigan deer hunters measured by Michigan DNR around the same time.
QDM Cooperatives are formed by hunters on neighboring lands who voluntarily agree to pursue similar deer herd management goals, giving the larger group the ability to achieve improvements in deer hunting that could not be accomplished independently. Agreements between hunters usually address selective buck harvest and doe harvest goals intended to balance buck:doe ratios and protect yearling bucks so they survive to older age classes.
While Mitterling found that QDM Cooperatives made great improvements in these aspects of deer hunting, it was the enhanced social communication that made it possible.
“I witnessed many benefits for members of QDM Cooperatives, but the social interactions, camaraderie, sharing of hunting stories, and discussions were of greatest note to me,” said Mitterling. “The deer management changes that occurred were made possible because of the social interactions occurring within these groups.”
In 2010 and 2011, the years Mitterling studied the 16 Cooperatives, less than 15 percent of the antlered bucks killed by participating hunters were yearlings; that figure was 57 to 59 percent in the statewide buck harvest during the same time period.
As for doe harvest, QDM Cooperative members killed more than 2.2 does for every buck taken in 2010 and 2011. Statewide, Michigan hunters took slightly more antlered bucks than antlerless deer in those years.
Mitterling described these and other findings of her study in an article that will appear in the April/May 2014 issue of QDMA’s membership magazine, Quality Whitetails.
“In short, we found QDM Cooperatives improve deer management, increase hunter satisfaction, and provide an avenue for better education and communication,” said Mitterling. “Within these social networks, information spreads quickly, and grassroots advocacy for sound deer management is more effective. QDM Cooperatives may be the key to a successful future for deer hunting in Michigan and throughout the whitetail’s range.”
QDMA is aware of at least 50 active QDM Cooperatives in Michigan alone, and the organization has placed a priority on supporting and creating Cooperatives nationally. Our first Cooperative Specialist, Brian Towe, went to work full-time in Missouri last year and has already helped launch 11 new QDM Cooperatives impacting more than 65,000 acres. QDMA’s Education & Outreach Staff also helped launch three new QDM Cooperatives built around National Wildlife Refuges in Michigan and Oklahoma that encompass private and public hunting lands.
For more information on how to form and successfully manage a QDM Cooperative:
Image courtesy Quality Deer Management Association