By Mark Kenyon
“This is the most important thing I’ve ever worked on, and probably ever will.”
Coming from Craig Dougherty (a former executive at several large hunting companies, published author, Quality Deer Management Association board member, and whitetail expert), this kind of statement carried a lot of weight.
Craig and I were at Bob Evans, enjoying a hearty breakfast and discussing the brand new organization that Craig was heading up, which he described as the most important thing he’d ever worked on. This organization being the newly minted National Deer Alliance.
As we kicked things off, I asked Craig the most pressing and obvious question on my mind. What is the National Deer Alliance?
“Think of it as an NRA for deer.”
Over the past year, an enormous outcry of concern surrounding deer and deer hunting has arisen across the country. Increased predation, disease, drastically decreasing deer populations and questionable management practices have all given rise to a tangible worry that can be felt across the hunting community. In response to this concern, this past spring the Quality Deer Management Association hosted the first Whitetail Summit, in which government organizations, state wildlife agencies, hunters, landowners, conservation organizations and representatives of the hunting industry all came together to discuss the current status of whitetails in North America. Numerous issues were discussed, but one of the largest take-aways was a need for an all-inclusive organization to represent all deer hunters, deer and their interests.
Hence the creation of the National Deer Alliance.
According to the announcement of the NDA within Quality Whitetails magazine, the mission of the National Deer Alliance is “to unite deer hunters like never before and harness this power to achieve positive outcomes for deer and deer hunting.”
Furthermore the goal of the NDA was described as “ to serve as the unified voice of the modern deer hunter and guardian of North America’s wild deer, wildlife habitat and our hunting heritage.”
While chatting with Craig over breakfast burritos and strawberry topped pancakes he continued to dole out some interesting details.
First off, the NDA is planning on working on several fronts. The NDA team will be partnering with legislators, wildlife agencies, the hunting industry, and other organizations that impact deer and deer hunting, all with the goal of ensuring that deer hunters, deer and their habitat are being considered when decisions are made across the country.
The NDA will also work to unify and educate deer hunters by providing resources, tools and a community to collaborate with. The first resource in the NDA’s plans is a email newsletter that will be sent to all National Deer Alliance members which will include helpful hunting ideas, news effecting deer and deer hunters, and much more.
This resource will be the first of what I imagine will be many to come from the NDA, and to receive it, all you need to do is sign up as a member at www.NationalDeerAlliance.com . It’s free to join, and all you need to provide is your name, email address and zip code. As a member you’ll be helping the NDA create the clout it needs to influence decisions in the future to benefit deer and you in turn.
According to the NDA website, the initial benefits of joining will be:
“1) NDA members will be kept informed on key deer issues in North America on a weekly basis through email, and real-time through social media and the NDA website. 2) NDA members will have the opportunity to have their voice heard by participating in NDA’s advocacy efforts. A steering committee with broad representation will guide NDA’s advocacy efforts. When a subject of broad concern is identified, it will engage NDA staff and members to achieve positive outcomes for deer and deer hunting. Member engagement in advocacy will be voluntary.”
Much more will be coming on the NDA, as the Quality Deer Management Association will be sharing more details this week at their national convention. I’ll be on site Thursday and Friday, and will be sure to pass along whatever I can learn.
The launch of the NDA is an important step to ensure a positive future for deer and deer hunting in North America, make sure you’re a part of that future.