Wildlife Management

Set Up a QDM Cooperative: Steps 1, 2 and 3

Quality Deer Management (QDM) cooperatives with your neighbors could be your best bet for seeing and harvesting more mature bucks on your hunting land. While organizing one can seem like a daunting task, the benefits far outweigh the toil. More and more co-ops are popping up around the country and the statistics show they are having a huge impact on the quality of hunting experience for those involved. Below is a roadmap on how to start QDM cooperative with your neighbors.

Understand What a QDM Cooperative Means

A QDM Cooperative is a group of like-minded conservationists pooling together their acreage and managing the land for a better hunting experience. It’s not a hunting club where land access is shared among the landowners. Fence lines still matter in terms of access. The central goal is that everyone works together by passing on young bucks, improving habitat, deterring poachers and more.

Make sure you and your neighbors understand that a QDM co-op is all about the "greater good" of whitetails in the area. Some co-ops are formalized with by-laws and officers, others are more informal and based on handshakes and mutual understanding. Either way, honesty and trust are essential for success.

Get To Know Your Neighbors and Gauge Their Interest

Assuming your neighbors will not be interested is a guarantee your endeavor will never get off the ground. Perhaps they’re not, but you will never know if you make don’t make a phone call or drop by for a chat. Start with the adjoining properties and keep expanding. Both trophy hunters and meat hunters have the same agenda - harvest more mature deer. Even if you get the cold shoulder from a neighboring landowner, tell him/her you are organizing an informal meeting to discuss the matter further and you would love it if they could attend.

Meet as a Group

Set up a "get together" at someone's house, a restaurant, park or a place where (hopefully) everyone will feel comfortable. Call, email or drop an invitation in the mail with the particulars. Explain that the meeting is very informal and more of a discovery session where the group can bring their observations, concerns and questions about the QDM program. When the meeting begins, go around the room and ask questions openly about everyone's hunting goals. Find out things like:

  • Which hunters in the group are trophy hunters?
  • Which hunters in the group are meat hunters?
  • Which hunters in the group plant food plots or improve habitat for whitetails?
  • Which hunters in the group run trail cameras?
  • Which hunters in the group are actively including youth hunters?

Present research to the group about your area. It could be relevant facts from the latest QDMA Whitetail Report or items published by your state agency such as:

  • Local deer density
  • Buck-to-doe ratio
  • Trends in your state's deer harvest
  • Facts about mature versus immature bucks

Give the group things to think about that show the potential for what your area could become under a management plan. Discuss having a certified wildlife biologist visit the area to help design a plan to which everyone can agree. Involving a biologist can ease concerns among the group, especially those members who are a bit skeptical about the plan. A professional will smooth over any issues or concerns among the group.

Hopefully attendees will be up for a QDM co-op, but be prepared for a few folks to say "no." Remember, the program is strictly voluntary and don't pressure anyone who is not enthusiastic about joining. A successful QDM program will seem more attractive down the road. After the initial meeting, arrange another for those committed to the cause and officially form the cooperative.


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