Q. How will NDA be different from existing national deer groups like the QDMA, Whitetails Unlimited, and Mule Deer Foundation? If I'm a member of one of these groups already, why should I join the NDA?
A. NDA is a cyber-based organization that will utilize digital and social-media tools to engage members and positively impact deer issues. NDA’s goal is to amass the largest, most-diverse base of deer hunters and enthusiasts ever assembled. Species-specific organizations like the QDMA, Whitetails Unlimited, and the Mule Deer Foundation will continue doing great work at the grassroots level to achieve their conservation missions, while NDA will provide the large, united, powerful voice needed to have the greatest positive impact on deer policy in North America. In fact, the three organizations listed above helped form NDA, and all have seats on the national board of directors.
Finally, NDA membership is free, so there are no barriers to participate. For those seeking paid membership opportunities, NDA encourages you to join the founding deer groups to help support their efforts.
Q. As a national organization, will NDA address local issues? What is important to hunters in one part of the country may not be important where I live.
A. While NDA will certainly address national deer policy, addressing local issues is a major reason the organization was established. Traditionally, deer management has been decided at the state level, but this approach often fails to achieve the desired outcome at the local level. This can lead to disgruntled hunters and distrust and/or lack of confidence in the state agency. That's why NDA is currently building the infrastructure necessary to identify issues at the local level. Our cyber-based network will make us quick to communicate and act locally. Success will require a strong local membership base, but once this is established, we expect to hear plenty from NDA members. When local anti-hunters are circulating a petition to stop a special archery season, for example, the NDA will be able to quickly alert members of this threat and take action before it gains any traction.
Q. Who formed the NDA and voted in the board? Are board members paid? If I give my email address but later want to opt-out, what do I do?
A. NDA is an outcome of the inaugural North American Whitetail Summit, held in May 2014 in Branson, Missouri. That’s where the call went out to form an umbrella organization to unify deer hunters and other stakeholders, to address the many issues facing deer and deer hunting. A steering committee comprised of a variety of stakeholders (industry, press, conservation groups, researchers, and hunters) organized that event, and members of the same committee helped to establish the Board of Directors.
Opting out of NDA membership is straightforward. Just as you can join quickly and at no cost, so, too, can you opt out at any time by clicking “unsubscribe” in your weekly NDA newsletter.
Q. What are the key priorities of NDA?
A. The first NDA strategic plan was completed May 2016 by the organization’s staff and board of directors, with the help of several outside deer and industry experts from around the country. The plan was updated in 2018 and the following key priorities were established:
- Diseases (chronic wasting disease)
- Wild deer conservation
- Hunter access
- State and federal land management
Q. Will NDA focus on the demands of its members or sound biology?
A. Member input will be critical to NDA’s success, and we will use it to guide positions whenever possible. That said, sound science is a cornerstone of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, a model that has made us the envy of the world with regard to wildlife management, conservation, and hunting. The best policy is often good for both deer and for hunters, who pay the freight. NDA will seek to balance member opinion with science, but where reliable research and data exists, we will ultimately land on the side of science. Many issues, however, are not questions of science but rather of ethics, opinion, or cultural differences. In the absence of science, NDA will be guided primarily by member opinion.
Q. What is the NDA stance on CWD? Should we manage it actively or passively?
A. CWD is one of the most serious threats facing deer and hunters today. NDA’s initial goal is to stop the spread of CWD through partnerships between hunters, wildlife agencies, and our elected officials, all working together and guided by the best science. This is a big issue, and we have much to learn, but we must do everything possible to protect wild deer and our hunting heritage. NDA is currently working with several conservation partners and scientists to ensure that the very best information we have about CWD is being utilized to make management decisions across the country.
Q: What is the NDA's stance on the captive deer industry and high-fence hunting?
A: NDA is currently establishing formal positions on contentious issues such as these. The bulk of our efforts will be focused on wild deer and our deer hunting heritage. However, we recognize that certain issues within the captive-deer and high-fence industries, for example, have the potential to impact both. Therefore, the NDA will be prepared to engage in those arenas to affect positive change for deer and hunters.
Q. How will the NDA handle divisive issues or ethics related questions?
A. Whenever possible, NDA will work to unite, rather than divide, hunters. Several issues have been dividing hunters for years, and the anti-hunting crowd loves every minute! That said, there are certain biological realities that can’t be ignored, as science is at the very center of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. We will try to avoid dividing hunters over issues that lack clear scientific justification, or are not in the best interest of hunting and our hunting heritage. We realize this will be a fine line to walk. The alternative (hunters battling among themselves) is far too destructive.
Q. How will NDA deliver value to its members without the traditional magazine or physical presence like other conservation organizations?
A. NDA represents the next generation of conservation organizations and will rely heavily on digital and social media tools to accomplish desired outcomes. This approach allows real-time member communication and engagement on deer issues. It also allows NDA members to become "digital deer volunteers" and make a difference, often in a matter of minutes, and without going anywhere or attending a meeting.
NDA has already held two deer summits where issues facing deer and deer hunting have been brought to the forefront. Also, a weekly newsletter filled with the latest news in the deer world will be sent to any member willing to share their e-mail address.
Q. Who is behind the NDA?
A. QDMA, Mule Deer Foundation, and Whitetails Unlimited are the backbone of NDA. These groups have been representing deer and deer hunters for decades, and are now proud to be aligned behind a central mission. They are joined by numerous hunting organizations and industry supporters.
The NDA board of directors is made up of individuals representing all aspects of the deer hunting and outdoors landscape. Currently the board is made up of representatives from the three deer groups listed above, as well as Archery Trade Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Vista Outdoor, Bass Pro Shops, and Wildlife Management Institute.
Q. Can members contact NDA for help regarding local deer-related issues? If so, how?
A. Working local deer issues is what NDA was created to do. Our cyber orientation will make us quick to communicate and act locally, and we recognize that we will not be successful without a strong local membership base. You can contact NDA by calling 614-259-3566, or via email at [email protected]
Q. 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?
A. The outdoor press gave NDA the label of “next generation of conservation organizations.” This 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 hunters’ minds and channeling 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 currently developing outreach tools to enable our members to be better informed and better prepared to engage on deer issues.