Recreating a Deer Woods


Well-Known Member
On the now discontinued Quality Deer Management Association forum (QDMA forum) this property had a thread titled “Increasing the Daytime Deer Population”. With the replacing the QDMA forum (Quality deer management Association forum) the previous QDMA property thread will continue here. It has been renamed though and refocused for this new Deer hunter forum to “Recreating a Deer Woods”. Hopefully this new thread will complement the many very informative threads already in progress at

The focus and goal on this property storied in the old Quality Deer Management Association thread was to increase the daytime deer population on this property to around sixty deer measured late fall to very early spring. The QDM goal of sixty deer spending daytimes on this property was quickly reached (two years) despite two extremely tough back to back winters. The property management tools and techniques so freely shared by many serious deer hunter/manager people both experienced and beginners on the now closed Quality Deer Management Association forum were absolutely instrumental in causing that goal to be so quickly met. Thankfully with the QDMA forum now closed many of those same people have moved to this newly formed “Deerhunter forum”.

“Recreating a Deer Woods” will chronicle a different focus than was had in the Quality Deer Management association forum thread (QDMA forum). The focus will be more on quality land management for deer as opposed to Quality deer management. “Recreating a Deer Woods” will follow the steps being taken to make this property the very best deer woods it can be as we perceive it, to give the deer and other wildlife the best possible deal providing them with a great place to live, multiply and survive to maturity. Certainly one of the results will be a more sustainable high deer population but the absolute major focus is more on recreating the best deer woods possible out of this property. As it was in the now shutdown Quality Deer management forum thread on” Increasing The Daytime Deer Population” questions, discussions, suggestions and comments for and against any of the views expressed in “Recreating a Deer Woods” are encouraged and welcomed. It was thru interaction and discussions in the old Quality Deer Management thread that much was learned and even the inspiration to learn more and recreate this deer woods was fired up from the interactions on the old QDM forum.

In the photo below a very inquisitive fawn studies the Coton De Tulear (my wife’s little white dog) as it is let out in the morning. Moments like this and hundreds more that happen almost daily now make the dream of a better deer woods worth the journey of pursuing.


So this post has begun the new property tour thread for this property but first before going on to describe the property as it was when the QDMA forum shut down I want to thank all the people involved in creating and maintaining the site. Your efforts in providing this median so that we can all share our individual outdoor journeys with each other as well as learn from each other is very much appreciated.

Very much looking forward to your new thread here. So glad you are getting it started and love the new title.

Can't wait to continue to follow along! Your thread was one of my favorites on the other forum!

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Thank you all for your welcomes. The last two months sure flew by! This property tour will cover the story from the beginning but first I’d like to cover where the property is today. A single deer sums it up. The deer we call Model is a great deer—not because of outstanding anything but because he represents a turning point, a difficult barrier to have crossed in our management efforts. Many of you have surpassed this turning point already and maybe even were fortunate enough to have started ahead of it. Still many of us in the northeast at least have sometimes wondered if it could ever even be possible. Model represents an age class (we think he is a 3 ½) that is something we had almost given up on, that is having 3 ½’s alive and well at the end of hunting season. Having 3 ½’s at all in this area is rare and having them left over after the hunting season is especially rare. Some other area properties have no doubt crossed this barrier five years ago or even more and maybe a small few properties have even crossed into the 4 ½ year level as their regular left after the season deer crop. For us though crossing the 3 ½ barrier started in 2015 so this is the second consecutive year. There are I believe four 3 ½’s left that use this property regularly that combined with the two 4 ½’s that I think are also left we can realistically anticipate three to four 4 ½’s plus to be using this property in the fall of 2017. This is a new, huge experience for us that we are quite excited about regardless of whether they are mere seven pointers like model or eight, nine or ten pointers.

Model who feels comfortable on this property in at least this safe zone allowed me to share his morning up close with him through the view of an old style telephoto lens this past Tuesday. It was December 13, the second day after the close of eight continuous weeks of different firearms seasons. There is no doubt whatsoever that he was fully aware of my presence but didn’t feel threatened. Model put up with me for four hours before he got up around 1 pm to re-bed fifteen yards further behind a cedar tree and out of my line of sight. Here is his pictorial that he allowed me to take.
About half the time Model "slept" with his eyes shut though his ears were on duty. And while relaxed looking had his eyes open for about half of his morning.


Here crows were diving at a hawk in a nearby tree. He stayed alert for about two minutes and looked agitated as they made a lot of noise.

And then it was back to sleep again.




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After four hours of "my company" Model decides it's time to get up.
He gets up and stretches as he looks around.


Then he seems like he might go back to sleep but decides to move on.
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One last long look as he surveys the area before walking away only to bed down again just out of sight. Around 4pm he joined two other large bucks and thirteen does in the nearby food plot. They were all feeding peacefully until Model arrived and then the chase was on;it was really comical to watch as the does ran left to right and right to left for fifteen minutes with Model chasing them. He was too far at that point to get pictures in focus.

We have a long way to go with this property but we are excited by our progress. While there were many years that the property held a 3 ½ or two at the beginning of the season holding 4 at the end was just a dream then and having a couple of suspected 4 ½’s alive at the end of the season was just something we read about occurring elsewhere.
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Chainsaw, I'm so glad to see you starting a new habitat thread, and I enjoyed the pictures of Model.

More deer in a higher age class is what many of us are seeking. It seems we all have both different and similar limitations in getting there. I've always felt that a lack of a "big woods" in the general area and being close to civilization were limiting factors here. Just curious what you feel are your biggest challenges and what steps you are taking to reach your goals.
Good to see this going Chainsaw. Really like those pics. I watched on sleep much as you described a few weeks ago. Can't imagine how they can get rested that way. I think also some deer are just more social and allow contact that could put them in danger. Your work on your property is to be admired. Looking forward….
Good to see this going Chainsaw. Really like those pics. I watched on sleep much as you described a few weeks ago. Can't imagine how they can get rested that way. I think also some deer are just more social and allow contact that could put them in danger. Your work on your property is to be admired. Looking forward….

Thank you dogghr. It is amazing how light the deer rest. As you probably observed watching the deer "sleep" they are also chewing much of the time as well. Looking through the telephoto lens at Model and constantly adjusting the focus ring showed an image of antlers moving in sync to his jaw.. I guess you could say that his chewing was demonstrative as each chew resonated to his antlers.
Thanks so much Native. I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures; it sure was enjoyable getting to watch Model up so close for so long. Your “just curious” questions strike right to heart of the matter. The next steps part is an evolving array of efforts which will be worked, analyzed and reworked as new ideas become more evident. Two of the ongoing next steps are aimed at continuing to implement our property plan that Steve created and to continue to significantly increase the amount of food naturally produced on the property.

Another next step in recreating this deer woods would be to create the very best daytime buck bedding areas possible. Building beds that bucks prefer so much that they will travel to them would surely increase their chance of survival. We all know that bucks prefer the military crest of the hill for their bedding location and a back drop and maybe some overhead cover. That concept was developed from years of watching pressured bucks by many different people and on different properties so it must have merit.

However look where Model chose to bed. It is at the bottom of the hill with no blow downs, no hinge cuts and no backdrops.


As you can see the bedding area he chose sits in a maturing aspen stand and was only ten yards in from an open field. He was in a safe zone where deer are not normally bothered with human intrusion and it was downwind of a food plot being visited regularly by does. It was only one bed by one deer but maybe in unpressured environments and/or during November/December the bucks prefer different bedding locations than otherwise. So yes one of the next steps is to create the best buck beds possible in the best locations possible but the best is yet not completely defined nor has it really ever been proven to work as they are done today. Or is there anyone out there that knows otherwise?

There are lot’s more next steps of course more than I have time to articulate here and even more that I have not yet learned of no doubt.

Current challenges are a little more evident. This 605 acre property has 18 adjoining property parcels and nine more across the road where the property borders the road. I look at this property as an island, a highly managed island with 27 smaller islands surrounding it. On two of the islands the landowners let younger deer walk with one shooting 3 ½ and 4 ½ and the other varying from 2 ½ to 3 ½ plus a mistake 1 ½ now and then. A third and very large island is hunted lightly so although they may kill any age deer they likely kill a small amount so it net adds to the population rather than detracts from it.

Two to four smaller lots maybe don’t hunt at all; the remaining twenty or so islands do hunt and everything possible is shot on them in any way they can. More deer are consistently shot on the smaller islands than they could ever possibly grow. Thus my island and the large property abutting us with minimal hunting must grow extra deer for those properties. Two of the properties are likely illegally baiting as well. This property is a highly managed island with maybe one to three islands adjacent to it adding to the goal with the others taking away from it. Looking further away there are other high management islands that though are four miles away still add to the goal. And then there are the AG fields of course which do provide spring and summer food but very little if any winter food and close to zero cover. Thus one of the challenges is encouraging more high management larger islands in the area that are adding to the goal while reducing the impact of the islands that work against our goal. This is of course just one of the challenges but perhaps one that when solved could have a very large positive impact to my “island”.

It is my intention to document the improvement efforts being made to the property and the area as we go along. And I hope it spurs discussions and exploring of ideas and that we all can learn from.

Native, I welcome yours and others thoughts regarding everyone’s major property challenges.
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With 605 acres with adequate cover/food and depth of property, you should be able to see 4-6 bucks each fall in the 4+ age class....regardless of adjacent hunting pressure/ takes a few years once native food production has been enhanced. Probably won't hold all of them through the rut, but certainly a pair or few for possible harvest. Think of it like one large island most of the year, but when the tide comes in (the rut) many islands form and the islanders disperse.
With 605 acres with adequate cover/food and depth of property, you should be able to see 4-6 bucks each fall in the 4+ age class....regardless of adjacent hunting pressure/ takes a few years once native food production has been enhanced. Probably won't hold all of them through the rut, but certainly a pair or few for possible harvest. Think of it like one large island most of the year, but when the tide comes in (the rut) many islands form and the islanders disperse.

Absolutely Doug, mature deer have been island hopping from here to other properties for a long time. Finally though as the native food has begun to grow back AND we have decreased the impact of our hunting pressure some matures did stay. Further as other property owners in town fix their properties to grow more mature deer instead of mature deer just leaving here with none coming in, I expect one or two might hop onto this island from other managed properties. While we can't stop dispersal, we are setting up the property into several "units" where each unit though linked together will have everything a buck could want in an effort to enable the property to hold a maximum amount of mature bucks.

Our 2016 season was very exciting with mature buck activity evident throughout the season. I took only one and passed on others leaving my muzzle loader tag unfilled as I wanted those mature deer that made it to have a chance at growing even more by next season. My hunting guests chose on their own to pass on the smaller bucks they saw and though they had glimpses of larger deer they just didn't have any slam dunk mature buck shot opportunities. Here is a pic of the 2016 buck taken off the property.


Dressing out at 213 lbs, it was a heavy drag thru briers and tree tops to get him to a field edge where the Polaris could take over. We couldn't be happier and I encourage anyone with closed canopy timber to consider removing trees to let the light in and start thinking of native food stands as much or more than planted food plots. They both contributed to great deer hunting and for this property at least both were required. And the idea of having four to six mature bucks on the property during a coming hunting season is becoming more believable each year.
Holy smokes Dave, that's a bruiser! I'm always amazed by the body weights you see up there. Your property is quickly becoming the local Mecca for mature bucks to hang out. I'm glad you've started your thread back and I look forward to following along.
I'll be in your neck of the woods again next month but unfortunately won't have time to visit this time. Send my best to Mrs Anne!

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Chanisaw...Great to see you posting again and congrats on taking a nice buck this season. Pics of deer bedding in snow is so foreign to us southerners. That is a great series of pics and commentary. Thx for taking the time to share. I concur on putting sunlight on the ground. You should see the native flora in our thinned pines as compared to last year pre-thinning. It was a black forest last year. Now a maze of native forbs. We have so much hunting pressure down here with firearms season lasting from mid October thru the 1st Sunday of January. But, we still carry over nice bucks. Food and cover seals the deal. We've yet to take a buck this year. Passed on so many and betting on enough getting thru til next yr. I love this stuff more and more with each passing year! Again, thx for taking the time to share.
I love that harvest picture - such a beautiful deer.

With the amount of land you have and the plan you are working, I have no doubts that you are going to reach your goals.
Dave, Thanks a ton for emailing me your link...Frankly, you are one of my favorite ppl to talk deer with and this has always been one of my top 3 favorite threads ever. A couple months ago I decided to shift the time I put in on forums to my own Facebook page. I know you, Steve, Buckly, Doug, heck, most everyone that's posted in this thread seems to enjoy our interactions, as I do as well. I also know that more than a few others over the years just wished I just STHU or always thought I was trying to sell snake oil to someone. No reason to try to convince me otherwise, please, as I know both of those statements are true and figured my own FB page would eliminate that as an issue (outside of the sex cam girls I occasionally get friends requests from, who is going to friend me if they don't want to read my junk? If they do, I can just unfriend them).

Long way of saying, I don't see changing my interactions on forums from this new approach, but I will definitely keep tabs on this thread. I flat out LOVE your place and have missed the heck out of living vicariously through your efforts.

PLEASE take this how it was intended. I'm merely explaining to old friends why I've altered my approach to this and don't want to unintentionally hurt any feelings if I post occasionally in your thread and not theirs. If I wanted to cause drama, have neediness satisfied or anything else equally foolish, I'd have made this proclamation before leaving, and then made it again a few months later and a few months after that, only to come back and do it 1234768372 more times. It's really no biggie. Just shifting time resources.

With that out of the way, grats on another great NY bruiser!!!! I echo what Steve said. I LOVE the harvest pic. It's just flat out beautiful.