LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015
With a relentless attack being waged on our hunting heritage these days, it’s always encouraging to see and hear about groups and organizations designed to make things better for hunters, as well as the wild game we pursue. That’s why I was particularly intrigued by the concept of a new organization created specifically for deer and deer hunters – the National Deer Alliance (NDA). The NDA was created 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.
I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with Craig Dougherty as we discussed this newly formed organization for deer and deer hunters. Dougherty admits he has a well-earned gray hair after 35 years in the hunting industry and serving a variety of hunting organizations. Having served on the board of the QDMA for 10 years, Dougherty was a natural fit when the call came for a man to serve as the Executive Director of the NDA.
Why Form a Deer Alliance?
Do we honestly need an organization to fight for deer? Unlike elk, turkey, or waterfowl numbers, deer populations have continued to explode, right? Unfortunately, even whitetails are facing significant threats, many of which were highlighted at the first-ever North American Whitetail Summit hosted earlier this year by the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). “Like never before our deer populations face an abundance of predators, deer diseases like EHD and Chronic Wasting, and habitat crunches and destruction,” says Dougherty. “There is also an online hunter-harassment push from anti-hunters that continues to grow. These issues must be dealt with. Every day of the week decisions are being made for deer and deer hunters. The NDA will give deer hunters a seat at the table and a place to voice their concerns on these issues and decisions.”
The whitetail deer is North America’s #1 game animal. The National Deer Alliance was formed to both protect our deer hunting heritage as well as promote conservation and management of this precious resource.
How It Started?
The concept for the NDA was fueled by discussions at this year’s QDMA Summit. “I think it’s safe to say the hunting community has taken the whitetail for granted for many years,” said Brian Murphy, CEO of the QDMA. “The Summit not only raised awareness of these issues, but also led to numerous calls for our organization to establish a true umbrella organization for all deer hunters. We have accepted this challenge, formed the NDA, and are quickly building an extremely large and diverse group of supporters.” The Alliance has already garnered support from many key conservation organizations, most notably the Mule Deer Foundation. “We are honored to be a key partner of the NDA,” stated Miles Moretti, Mule Deer Foundation president and CEO. “The NDA’s mission is clear – to unite deer hunters like never before and harness this power to achieve positive lasting outcomes for deer and deer hunting. This is just as necessary for mule and black-tailed deer as it is for whitetails.”
Who Can Join?
The opportunity to be a part of the NDA and have your deer hunting voice heard is wide open. “The NDA is designed to pitch a very big tent,” says Dougherty. “We want everyone that has an interest in deer to come be a part of this exciting organization. It’s the NRA for deer hunters! Deer hunting is what drives hunting as a whole. The NDA will be a meeting place for deer hunters and deer issues.” Dougherty says membership in NDA is free and includes a comprehensive weekly e-newsletter on issues impacting deer and deer hunting in North America. When an important advocacy issue surfaces, the NDA will notify members in the affected area and mobilize their collective power to achieve positive outcomes for deer. “All you have to do is be willing to open your e-mail once a week to see what’s going on in the deer world and stand up and be counted when it matters,” says Dougherty.
As an organization revolving around the nation’s most popular big game animal, the NDA expects to sign up a million deer hunters. “That’s a pretty big gorilla to have in the room,” says Dougherty.
As my conversation with Dougherty wrapped up, he made the comment, “I can’t imagine a world without deer and deer hunting.” And the more I think about it, neither can I. How about you? Would you be willing to join the fight to ensure that deer and deer hunting opportunities are still around long after you’re gone?
For more information, or to join the thousands of other hunters who are committed to preserving our deer hunting heritage, visit www.nationaldeeralliance.com