Ames Plantation Featured in Quality Whitetails

The October/November issue of Quality Whitetails, the journal of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), featured an in-depth article on the successful implementation of Quality Deer Management (QDM) practices in the Ames Plantation Hunting Club. The goal of QDM is to promote a healthy deer population and maintain adequate habitat while improving hunter satisfaction. Quality Whitetails is considered a go-to source for QDM techniques, and its contributors are regarded as the nation’s top experts in deer biology and habitat management.

The article, titled “QDM Journey: The Ames Story,” was written by Allan Houston and Craig Harper, both professors in the UT Institute of Agriculture Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. Houston is also the director of Natural Resources Research and Management at Ames Plantation. The authors describe the challenges of implementing QDM protocols within a large and diverse hunting club membership, as well as the many successes. Ames’ has drastically increased its mature buck herd. For the last six seasons, around 40 percent of all bucks killed have been 4.5 years or older, compared to less than 5 percent in 2003. The average gross antler scores have increased by 30 points in the same time period. The article also cites a significant increase in the number of harvested does, which has helped balance the Ames’ herd.

Houston and Harper write that these successes are due to ongoing educational efforts and hunter buy-in. Management uses monthly newsletters, a “Good, Bad and Ugly Board,” and a strict set of rules and consequences to communicate goals. For their part, hunters have become meticulous data collectors, with each hunter completing an observation form following each hunt. The authors add that these collective observations create a “fantastic data set for habitat correlations with body size, antlers, and a host of other information.”

The authors stress that the greatest success of the Ames Plantation QDM program is not increasing antler size, but increasing extraordinary experiences in the outdoors and introducing a science-based philosophy of stewardship to its membership. As they write,

“Perhaps the best measure of satisfaction is found in the sense of exposure our members feel when hunting in the midst of a mature herd. Along with what they observe, they have seen the deer management science behind the result and know older bucks are indeed around them. There is also the satisfaction of it being a circumstance they have a hand in sustaining.”

View the complete Quality Whitetails article here.