By Mark Kenyon
“A serious issue with significant long-term implications for the future of deer hunting.”
So said Brian Murphy, CEO of the Quality Deer Management Association, as he described a reality that many of us are experiencing. That being the fact that “whitetail numbers are down throughout much of their range due to many factors, including EHD, predators and over-harvest.”
To combat this recent trend in whitetail populations, the QDMA is convening, for the first time, a “North American Whitetail Summit” starting today (March 3), bringing together hunters, federal agencies, conservation organizations, industry and media members and landowners to discuss the issues at hand affecting whitetails and possible solutions.
While the 2013 hunting season results have recently given the North American Whitetail Summit a much more urgent feel, the event had actually been planned even before seeing the declined harvest reports coming from many states this winter. In early 2013, the summit was announced, with the stated goal being “to lay the groundwork for a sustainable future for whitetail hunting and management within the context of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation through identification of clear, practical and achievable action items that can be collaboratively addressed by key stakeholder groups.” Craig Dougherty, member of the QDMA’s National Board of Directors elaborated, “QDMA’s mission is to look out for white-tailed deer and the people who hunt them. It’s important to get all interested parties together to determine how we can best accomplish that mission.”
The invitation-only summit is limited to 300 attendees, whom will participate in interactive general sessions and breakout group periods to discuss and debate the current issues facing whitetails and whitetail hunters across the country. The summit will feature a special message from former Vice-Presidential candidate and Congressman Paul Ryan, as well as esteemed attendees such as the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Dan Ashe, Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops and Will Primos.
While the proposed goals of the first North American Whitetail Summit all sound great, it will be most interesting to see what actually comes from it. Discussions, debates and ideas are important – but the big question will be what actions are actually taken.
That said, it seems like we can count on at least one thing, and it will be music to many concerned hunters’ ears. According to Craig Dougherty, “One thing is for sure, we’ll be talking about declining deer numbers and what can be done about it.”
Over the coming days/weeks, we’ll be sure to keep you posted on what comes of this event!
Visit QDMA.com for more information about the Quality Deer Management Association, their mission, and the 2014 Whitetail Summit