The National Deer Association (NDA) partnered with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AGFC) to provide a customized three-day Deer Steward course for AGFC staff and leadership in mid-July. NDA has held custom Deer Steward courses for five other state wildlife agencies, but with 86 certified graduates, the Arkansas course was the largest agency class yet.
"NDA's Deer Steward course is a great opportunity for hunters and managers alike to learn more about the most recent deer and habitat research and how it directly applies to our management efforts here in Arkansas,” said Ralph Meeker, AGFC Deer Program Coordinator. “NDA did a great job communicating many of the individual components related to deer and habitat management and how they tie together. This made it much easier for our staff to not only understand but will undoubtedly help them communicate those same ideas with our constituents."
“We had a mix of DMAP biologists, wildlife technicians, disease specialists, WMA managers, the state veterinarian, consulting foresters, and two AGFC commissioners,” said Ben Westfall, NDA’s Conservation Coordinator and one of the course instructors. “Most of them gathered in person at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension State Office in Little Rock, but we also streamed the course live for a group of staff who were unable to attend.”
Other course instructors included NDA’s Chief Conservation Officer Kip Adams, Director of Conservation Matt Ross, and Dr. Craig Harper of the University of Tennessee.
Course evaluations completed by attendees ask them to list the number of acres they are responsible for as managers. Westfall said evaluations from the Arkansas course total to more than 2.2 million acres impacted by course information.
Deer Steward is NDA’s popular, advanced training course that is available to hunters and landowners as an online or in-person experience and teaches key principles of deer and habitat biology, ecology, management and hunting. Staff members from over a dozen state wildlife agencies have attended the public Deer Steward courses in the past. However, by special request, NDA has also provided customized Deer Steward courses for wildlife agencies in six states: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. The course has also been provided to land specialists with Whitetail Properties.
“Few college courses provide practical knowledge in the four cornerstones of Quality Deer Management,” said Westfall. “This is where some state wildlife agencies are finding our Deer Steward course to be beneficial for their staff biologists because it provides in-depth training on deer habitat, food plots and herd management.”
About the National Deer Association
Formally launched on November 10, 2020, the National Deer Association is a non-profit deer conservation group that leads efforts to ensure the future of wild deer, wildlife habitat and hunting. Formed by combining the strengths of two long-serving, successful organizations, the National Deer Association has a combined 38 years of action that has changed deer management for the betterment of hunting and protected North America’s most vital and admired game species for future generations. Visit DeerAssociation.com or follow @deerassociation on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok.