Ask any seasoned deer hunter, and you’ll hear about stories of years with deer in abundance, and other tales of years where there were more ghosts than animals.
With bow hunters already afield, and rifle hunters about to take their stands, deer hunting in northern Michigan is again hitting its peak, and thanks to the Tip of the Mitt chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), local hunters are more likely to find success this fall.
QDMA started in 1988, and supports local chapters all over the United States and Canada. According to the group’s website, the mission is to “promote sustainable, high-quality deer populations, wildlife habitats and ethical hunting experiences through research, education, advocacy, and hunter recruitment.”
Tip of the Mitt chapter president Jim Rummer says the local group is committed to all this and more. Rummer explains that though more mature bucks is a goal, hunters and others should not confuse the group’s mission as driven only by Antler Point Restrictions (APR). While APR is useful in producing larger bucks, QDMA is also about introducing young hunters to the sport, as well as offering hunting opportunities to disabled veterans, and working with landowners on food plot strategies to benefit the deer herd.
“We really try to embrace and celebrate our youth,” Rummer says. A major Tip of the Mitt event each year is the annual Aging Night, with assistance from Department of Natural Resources officials. Hunters of all ages bring in head mounts for aging and scoring. “Youth education is the biggest part of this,” Rummer explains. He says the event also includes a “farm to table” feature, with butchering demonstrations, followed by cooking tips.
Assisting disabled veterans is another initiative for Tip of the Mitt, QDMA national chapter of the year in 2013. “We’re also proud of what we’re doing out at (Brave Hearts Estate),” Rummer says, explaining how the group maintains hunting blinds, and provides guides for veterans who are 100 percent disabled so they can hunt on the property near Pellston. Recently, Tip of the Mitt partnered with the Little Traverse Conservancy to expand this program to include more veterans and more area hunting land.
Rummer says his group is also committed to assisting local conservation law enforcement. “We have purchased several robo deer that game wardens use to help enforce our game laws,” Rummer adds. Conservation officers use the robo deer to apprehend game violators.
Reaching into Antrim, Charlevoix, and Emmet counties, the Tip of the Mitt chapter of QDMA is equally proud to note, Rummer explains, that local hunters are helping to balance the deer herd, increasing the antlerless harvest, allowing more bucks to reach 3 or even 4 years old. “A balanced herd is certainly what you want to have,” Rummer explains.