If you saw my original post, right after completing my Deer Steward certification course about a week ago, you know that I had an amazing time. But what I haven’t shared with you yet is a full recap of the two and a half days I spent in Branson, Missouri. So I figure I ought to do that!

In a nutshell, the Deer Steward Course was the most thorough, enjoyable and educational deer hunting related event I have ever attended. One of the Quality Deer Management Association’s key goals is to educate hunters across the country and arm them with the knowledge and resources necessary to bring quality management practices back to their home towns and properties. And after attending the course, I think it’s safe to say that they’ve found the perfect model for achieving that goal. With first class instructors, in-depth information, great commradery and in-field activities the QDMA put on a world class event for deer hunters and managers and it is one I would recommend to anyone looking to better understand deer and how to better manage them.

Instructors

Before even taking a look at the content of this course, anyone would be impressed just by the credentials of the presenters. The QDMA brought together truly a who’s who of whitetail biologists, researchers, hunters and habitat managers. We learned from the absolute best and it made this experience that much better. If you ever read magazines like Quality Whitetails or Deer & Deer Hunting you’ve heard of many of these folks. Leading us in discussion we had QDMA founder Joe Hamilton, QDMA CEO Brian Murphy, Kip Adams,  Dr. Craig Harper, Dr. Grant Woods, Dr. Karl Miller, Matt Ross and Brad Moorman. We learned from the absolute most renowned biologists and researchers and it made all the difference. The amount of experience brought to the table was incredible, and it certainly made our learning experience that much more memorable. And maybe even more important than the knowledge and expertise these folks had, was the fact that they were so incredibly approachable and down to earth. Every and any question was answered, extra time was taken to discuss specfic situations for any person who wanted to, and contact information was freely shared. The presenters were at the course because they truly love managing deer and were thrilled to share their knowledge with new folks. That’s something you don’t see every day.

Content

As I’ve mentioned before, I learned an absolute ton over the two days of in-class instruction and the content is really what made this experience. We literally were in classroom setting from 8:00 AM til 7:00 PM both days. At first glance that sounds daunting, but I’ve never had a day in class go so fast! I probably could have sat through weeks of this kind of instruction. What was so great about this was that we wern’t just learning the same stuff we read about in magazines, instead we were getting the most in-depth insight from the industry’s most renowned biologists and researchers.  Let me share with you a sampling of the topics we covered…

– Antlered and antlerless deer management strategies

– Aging bucks on the hoof and aging by tooth wear

– Timber stand, food plot, and early succession management

– Managing hunter expectations and hunting success

– Whitetail biology, diseases, senses and communication

– Spotlight surveying, trailcam surveys and herd data interpretation

I cannot possibly write here all the different topics covered and lessons learned, but keep an eye on the blog for plenty of new articles covering topics from thee Steward course in the days to come. I left Branson with so many new topics to write about, I’m not sure where to start! But all that being said, the knowledge I gained was unbelievable and I’m certain there’s no other way I could have been exposed to all of this other than through the Steward course.

Field Trip

On our last day, we had the opportunity to visit Dr. Grant Woods’ property, The Proving Grounds, and what an experience that was! If you’ve ever watched Growing Deer TV, you know that Grant has some great deer on his property and this is a result of a LOT of hard work he has put into the land. I plan on devoting an entire post just to our trip to The Proving Grounds, so I won’t dwell on this too long. But the morale of the story is that seeing Grant’s property was an inspiration to all those that have less than perfect whitetail property and the anecdotes and lessons shared by Grant were undoubtedly valued by all of the attendees.

All in all, the Deer Steward course was a tremendous experience and one that I will carry with me for many years to come. Friendships were made, lessons were learned and plans set in motion that will in fact last a lifetime. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Deer Steward course, I would highly recommend you jump at it. You’ll return a better manager, a more knowledgeable hunter and officially, a deer steward.

For more information regarding the QDMA certification courses, click here.