By Mark Kenyon
Since the launch of the National Deer Alliance this summer, there has been a torrent of questions from deer hunters across the country hoping to better understand what this new conservation organization will be focused on, how it will operate, and why it’s worth joining. To this point though, since the NDA is just getting up and running, the answers have been few and far between.
For that reason I went to Craig Dougherty, Executive Director of the National Deer Alliance, and asked him some of the most common questions hunters are raising about the NDA. Today we’ve got Part 2 of our NDA Q&A. Read on and then if so inclined, be sure to visit NationalDeerAlliance.com to become a member.
What is happening at the NDA today? Where will it be in 6 months?
Right now we are focused on building the necessary infrastructure and tools to enable success. In particular, we need a sophisticated website to communicate with the nation’s deer hunters and stay abreast of important deer issues. We are building that website. We are building membership (it grows daily), but have yet to launch our first of a series of membership drives. From an internal perspective, we are establishing the Board of Directors, advocacy committee and identifying short and long-term staffing needs. We are also forging partnerships and alliances with like-minded groups and individuals who are in a position to help the NDA achieve its goal of becoming the “Voice of the Deer Hunter.”
We have already started delivering our weekly E-newsletter, “On Watch,” to thousands of deer hunters and are surveying them weekly to see what issues are most important to them. We are a few weeks away from initiating an action plan to begin working issues they have identified. We also have an active Facebook and YouTube presence to help get the word out.
Funding is another area of focus. Thankfully, numerous hunting companies have pledged their support. In particular, QDMA and the Archery Trade Association (ATA) have committed significant resources. The outdoor press and TV networks also are lending their support in a big way.
How soon until the NDA is able to start taking real action on deer related issues?
We have already started! The first step is listening to our members. In each week’s newsletter, we poll members to better understand their perspectives. We are narrowing down on a few central issues and will soon begin working them. Our initial issues won’t be massive undertakings (like world peace) but something hunters can relate to and where a difference can be made to advance deer and deer hunting.
Given NDA’s claim to be the next generation of conservation organizations, how will it uniquely use its digital network to handle deer-related issues on a national and local scale?
First, the NDA didn’t invent that claim – the outdoor press gave us that label. The “next generation” conservation label comes largely from our mission-delivery strategy, which is predicated on the use of digital and social media. Let’s face it, that’s how folks communicate these days, including deer hunters! Another unique aspect is our emphasis on finding out what’s really on deer hunter’s minds and channeling the NDA’s efforts to address issues of greatest concern. We are dedicated to being an organization that listens to its members and builds them into the solution. We are constantly asking questions, and the answers we are getting are shaping our future.
What will the NDA do to address the issue of declining deer populations across the country?
In many areas, declining deer populations are a serious concern. Some declines are likely short-term responses to EHD and/or severe winters. However, in other areas, these factors combined with predation, habitat change/loss and even overharvest present greater, longer-term challenges. The key to NDA’s success in this area will be to build firm bridges between the folks issuing the deer management permits (generally agencies) and the folks using them (hunters and landowners). This is where a strong network of hunters (NDA members) comes in handy. If thousands of hunters in a given area are connected with each other as well as with their wildlife authorities, information can be shared and management strategies adjusted to meet desired goals. NDA members can help monitor critical habitats, predator impacts and even diseases. In brief, we seek to create situations where hunters are actively involved on-the-ground as well as in the decision-making equation. Simply put, it will take all groups working together on a local as well as state level to ensure sustainable deer herds in the future.
Once someone joins the NDA, can they ever remove themselves as members?
Sure, like all things cyber driven, opting out is a mere click away. But, why would you ever want to cease having your voice heard on all things deer?
Five years from now, what will the NDA be doing?
Five years from now we expect to be a million or more members strong and doing great work for deer and deer hunters on a scale never before imagined. Many have said, “So you are looking to be the NRA for the modern deer hunter?” Frankly, that wouldn’t be such a bad place to be in five years.
For more information or to join the National Deer Alliance, visit NationalDeerAlliance.com