"It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly to implore His protection and favor."
-George Washington                                                            
How appropriate it is, that I should find myself up early and having the time to make this entry, today, at the midway point of our hunting season.  I have been a lazy Catholic my whole life, and the church's ways often don't jibe with my own feelings about the world, but I've always found the time to make conversation with the Lord.  This "conversation" is truly about thanks.

Up at Red Hand, this could also be referred to as our "harvest" season.  We take great pride and recognize the great responsibility that we have in being stewards of our land and our wildlife.  Just last Saturday, we brought Red Hand full circle.  With 50 acres now planted in Ag crops, a new pond that will become a self-sustaining fishery next summer and the planting of 65 chestnut trees, Red Hand Ranch was officially reclassified as a working farm.  Outside of Marian, my children(that means you too Ben), grandchildren,  and my profession, this is the most rewarding feeling in my life.  It's ownership and working efforts by my entire family make me pause to give thanks for what we have accomplished.  

So, back to our "harvest" season at the farm.  We practice and support QDM principles on our land.  Quality Deer Management is a philosophy and practice that requires commitment and discipline.  We are members of QDMA (Quality Deer Management Association) and our land is currently under "pledged" status.  QDM in it's simplest form is the balancing of your deer herd by sex and age.  The sex ratio that would be ideal for us is 2:1 (does:bucks).  This requires the harvesting of does every season, initially harvesting more does than bucks to balance out the equation.  A balanced sex ratio keeps the herd healthy, fit and strong.

The second main component of QDM is protecting young males.  We are committed to allowing the age structure of bucks in our herd to mature.  We opt to pass on taking young male deer.  Mature bucks not only make for some nice trophies, but they also serve as strong, healthy propagators for the herd.   After reading numerous books, doing tireless research and studying deer biology, QDM is the best way to ensure a healthy renewable resource concerning our whitetail herd. 

So we started by harvesting two does during early bow season.  Jake coined a little phrase that i like ... "Bow is for doe".  Jake took our first deer of the year by bow out of his tree stand on top of the plateau.  A nice animal that will soon grace our dinner table.

Kellen followed that up with a large deer also taken from the plateau tree stand. We've already enjoyed a dinner Marian prepared from the meat taken.  We had a special guest, Jen Baccarella, spend last weekend with us.  That called for the prime cuts ... backstraps, need I say more.  Positively delicious.
Recovery that evening before the coyotes try to claim their share.
Back at the house where we field dressed her prior to delivery to Boss Farm for butchering.
And now for the reason why we practice QDM.   After enjoying our Saturday (11/17/2012) evening feast, including a farm fresh broiler (chicken) given to us by Eric (a neighboring farmer who also uses our land for harvest-able crop growing), we were set for bed and tomorrow's hunt.  We (me, Jake, Kellen and Ben) had seen plenty of deer all day long on opening day and had passed on some really nice 6 pointers.  Tomorrow could be eventful.

Out in the dark, in our stands well before daybreak, we were stoked.  The hours crawled by.  Not a single deer!!!  Nothing, nada, not a doe, not a fawn let alone a buck!  What's going on?

Sent a text out to the boys (ahhh ... modern technology).  See anything?  1st response back is from Jake  ... "nope".  Ben next ... "nothing".  Jake again ... "heard a sound behind me while texting, might have spooked a ..." suddenly a resounding  BANG just over my right shoulder.  Real close proximity, this had to be Kellen or Ben.  Seconds later a text.  It's Ben (he's hunting the middle wheat field out of the new Red Neck blind) ... 
"Doc I got a deer down, looks like a big buck."  
"Left, the flat area below the slope". 
"OK stay there,  Jake and I will come down with the mule." 
QDM works. Ben takes our 1st big deer.
We recovered this beautiful animal on the southwest border of the property.  I contacted our neighbor Jim, just in case we needed to look on his property.  We didn't want to trespass, so I asked permission to be respectful to our neighbor.

After we field dressed this bruiser and delivered him to Boss Farm, I had him weighed.  195 lbs. AFTER being gutted.  Biggest deer in weight they had so far.  He made quite an impression with the other hunters and the butcher staff.  I was very pleased that he was harvested from our lands.

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